Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Man sitting on chair with a guitar on a street
By Guest Author
Posted by: Unison

Imposter syndrome refers to “a pattern of behaviour where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” Imposter syndrome is feeling out of place on the stage you’ve dreamed up for yourself. It’s reaching that big goal and looking around thinking, “I don’t belong here, someone is going to call me out.”

Imposter Syndrome can manifest itself in so many different ways. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field. 

People who suffer from impostor syndrome believe that they have to work extra hard to achieve success, rather than attributing their success to their own natural talent. They do double the work as their peers in order to prove that they are worthy of being there. The result? A working life riddled with anxiety, exhaustion, and potentially even resulting in major burnout. 

So what can you do to mitigate the negative effects of Imposter syndrome?

Self Reflection – The first step towards conquering imposter syndrome is admitting you suffer from imposter syndrome. This could start as simply as putting a name to your emotions. Ask yourself, “Why am I doubting myself?” Try to identify why you have feelings of insufficiency. Even just recognizing your behaviors can help minimize them so you can reset and refocus with confidence.

Build a Support System – Alone-ness can amplify the feeling of Imposter Syndrome, so counter it with connectedness. There is nothing quite as comforting as knowing people who are feeling the same way that you are and going through the same problems. Imposter Syndrome slices us away from our community and makes us feel like it’s us against our peers. It should not. The music community is a collective, and it’s important to know you’re not alone. Having friends around you who can support you–to listen to you vent, help you solve a problem, or just give you a high-five–can make all the difference in the world when you are going through a hard time. 

Be Kind to Yourself – Remember that you are entitled to make small mistakes occasionally and forgive yourself. Don’t forget to reward yourself for getting the big things right.

Say Yes to New Opportunities – It’s impossible to say “yes” to everything, especially when you’re feeling stressed or spread thin. But it’s all too common for people who have impostor syndrome to turn down career-making opportunities because they don’t feel like they’d do a good job. Taking on new work and doing well at it can open a lot of doors for you. Don’t let your inner impostor turn down game-changing opportunities that will help you learn, grow, and advance your career.

So together, let’s reframe impostor syndrome — not as a debilitating condition, but as a strength.  Anyone can feel like a fraud. Like an imposter in their own world. It shows up in different ways and at different times, but it’s deeply rooted in the fact that we’re achievement oriented, and we’re out here chasing our biggest dreams. It can be correlated with great things, like being hungry for growth and high achievement. With that will always come uncertainty, but don’t let it control you before you even begin.