People Struggling With Imposter Syndrome Reveal How They Try To Overcome It

It's not easy being insecure.

You've earned your place in a school or a job that seems way out of your league. But now, you're there, and you are expected to pull your own weight. But you don't feel equipped to do so---how do you manage?

u/HandleWithDelight asked:

"Impostor syndrome" is persistent feeling that causes someone to doubt their accomplishments despite evidence, and fear they may be exposed as a fraud. AskReddit, do any of you feel this way about work or school? How do you overcome it, if at all?

Here were some of the answers.

Nerds Droppin' Elbows


Academic here : a lot of us suffer from this syndrome. Positions are so difficult to obtain that a lot of us almost feel guilty when we get one : all academics know colleagues that were as bright, if not brighter than themselves, that couldn't be hired or left the academic world. Therefore, there is this permanent feeling that we might not fully deserve this position and that at some point someone will discover that we are not as bright, as deserving as they think.

So you keep pushing, you keep working harder, overtime, on week-end, during holidays, just to convince yourself that you belong here. And it's hard, because when you work in academia, you encounter frequently people who are factually geniuses, who are out there in terms of cognitive possibilities : their brain just don't work like yours, really, there is no way that even through hard work you can achieve their level of understanding of a discipline, of methods, etc.

In addition, academia is very competitive : frustration, bullying, d!ck-size contests, public humiliation are part of the 'scientific debate' unfortunately and it really doesn't help regarding the impostor syndrome. Meanwhile I try to promote 'kindness', but it's very very difficult.

I'm a faculty, for 20 years now, one of the youngest ever hired in my field and there is not a single day where I don't have this fear that one day I will be unveiled as an impostor. It's tiring, depressing, hard. But there is one thing that keeps me afloat : teaching. I may not be a great scientist, but I'm a decent professor : being in the arena, among students, explaining, describing, questioning these young, and often brilliant minds is the only thing that I find fully satisfying. It gives meaning to my life really. And that's how I cope with the syndrome, because I know that in my classroom, at least, I'm useful to somebody.


Don't Make Me Decide

I feel it almost every day. Especially when a decision comes down to me. It's like really? You're going to let me decide something that will affect employees for years to come? Are you sure this is a good idea?

I just push forward anyways and am not afraid to ask for advice and opinions. Lots of communication helps for me at least


Even If It Were Your Life's Work

I'm retired now. I went to lunch with an old boss/friend my last day and confessed to him that I was relieved to be getting out before they all realized I'd been making everything up all along.


Finding A Groove

I've felt this way the entire time I've been at my current job. In my last job I migrated from tech support to development, and my current job I was simply hired on as dev.

I'm one of those self-taught types, so I don't have any degree to back me up. I mean, I read up on good practice, I look at code samples and study design patterns and even worked on getting my math up to snuff.

I mean, they seem to think I'm okay, I've been employed here three years now. Still, I'm absolutely convinced I'll make some simple but stunningly amateur mistake and get kicked to the curb.


Little Love Notes

My brain, at baseline, is a swirling vortex of fear and negativity. I experience imposter syndrome often. All the time. All through grad school and in my career. I basically need my boss to explicitly say "you're doing a good job" and I need to hear my colleagues say "we appreciate the work you're doing for the team" and I need to see really concrete, explicit evidence that my clients are making progress or I just feel like a sham, a trash person, an imposter.

I write little notes of affirmation to myself when I'm not getting enough feedback from my team. I'll put post it notes around my desk that say "you deserve to be here", "20 people interviewed for this position and you got it", "you passed all licensing exams because you're smart". And those notes will usually calm me down.


We Are All Impostors

Being a Software Engineer that about sums up my experience at least first 2 years in the field and still comes up once in a while when I find a huge hole in my knowledge. The way I overcome it is realize that:

  1. I don't know everything.
  2. They (others) don't know everything.
  3. I know what they might not know.
  4. They know what I might not know.
  5. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  6. Look at what you learned, achieved, created and realize "I might be an idiot but I managed to do this, so even if I'm an idiot I'm damn capable one for sure."
  7. Realize not knowing something is temporary if you've the attitude to learn.


The Law Isn't A Popularity Contest

I'm a lawyer and every day I wonder if the judges and my fellow attorneys are taking pity on me for being such a blithering idiot. But then I realize I've been doing this for 5 years, and law is not a career where the other side cares about your feelings.


When The Stakes Are High

For what it's worth, my situation is that I'm a support worker for people with disabilities(primarily acquired brain injuries, but a couple of other conditions as well). Some require a staff 24/7, but others only have a certain amount of hours a week, etc. My educational background is as a child and youth worker, and I fell into this field because a lot the training and skills are transferable.

Depending on which site I work at and how scheduling goes, I work with about 8-9 different clients. Every single g*ddamned day, I doubt how I handle a situation at least once, and I feel like I lack the necessary knowledge and confidence to do my job in an outstandingly skilled way.

I feel like half my coworkers secretly hate me, despite a lack of outward evidence. Some clients, I simply can't develop a rapport with no matter how hard I try. The list goes on.

But I do the job, almost every day, and I don't see myself quitting anytime soon. I know there isn't an easy fix to how I feel. I just hope that I grow more confident over time.


How Does One "Become Secure"

i recently became a programmer. most people experience imposter syndrome in any skills-based field. it's hard to overcome—i haven't. confidence is everything. building confidence comes from consistent effort and becoming secure in oneself. that's the only way to overcome imposter syndrome.


Probably Gonna Get Pulled Over


I just got my license a month ago and every time I drive alone I feel like a little kid who shouldn't be allowed to drive. I'm terrified of being pulled over for anything even though I am legally allowed to drive and I don't do anything illegal while doing so (except speeding ig). It doesn't help that I'm not the best driver so I feel like all of these adults on the road are watching and judging me.


Getty Images

Lawyers can find themselves in sticky situations, particularly if their clients are a bit, shall we say, stodgy. This formed the basis for today's burning question from Redditor D0wnl0adableC0ntent, who asked the following question: "Lawyers of reddit when was your "How the hell am I going to defend this guy" moment?"

Keep reading... Show less

One of my closest friends is a cannabis entrepreneur in Colorado. Recently I got to help her out packing orders. Somewhere around hour 7 with my fingers raw from work I sighed and went "UGH. TV lied to me. There is so much packing tape involved in being a drug dealer! Nobody told me about packing tape!"

Keep reading... Show less

"I'm never doing that again," they said, after drinking too much Moonshine and waking up on top of a garage. Some things you only need to do once.

-Schino- asked Redditors that have learned their lesson: What are some of your "Well, I'm never doing that again" moments?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

Keep reading... Show less

Could you save behavior like this for your therapist?

We all know bosses can be crazy but Lord knows so can employees. When you hire someone you are taking a huge leap of faith that they aren't totally looney tunes. You can vet people sure, but crazy will always finds a way to slip under the radar. What some employees think is appropriate work behavior can be astonishing.

Redditor u/weirdplayer12 wanted to hear from all the bosses out there by asking.... Bosses of reddit, what was the craziest thing an employee did during work?

Keep reading... Show less

Life is a series of curveballs that are impossible to dodge. Some good, some bad, but always worthy of a story on Reddit.

USN_Babs asked: What was your "Didn't see that coming" moment?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

Keep reading... Show less