Pamela Jabbour has designed uniforms for the Australian Olympic team and numerous workplaces, yet she still suffers from impostor syndrome. She opens up feelings of self-doubt, guilt and a lack of confidence — and what she does to push through it.
‘What am I doing here? I don’t belong. I don’t know anywhere near as much as the people around me. I’m a total fraud, and soon I’m going to be found out!’
Impostor syndrome is said to be a “psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’”.
Affecting more women than men, it has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience impostor syndrome at least once in their life, and I’m no exception.
Sometimes, we are our own biggest critics and like a lot of us, I’ve struggled with self-doubt, guilt and an overall lack of confidence.
This was particularly so in the early days of business when it was extremely challenging to get a win. This feeling of low self-worth continued despite my success and I was constantly plagued with feelings of, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I don’t belong at this table’, ‘how have I made it this far?’
I lost many a night sleep agonising about the next day and the meetings with my team or clients, questioning how me, this 20-something-year-old, was even holding such meetings.
My form of impostor syndrome meant I never stopped for a minute to recognise my achievements or take the time to reflect on the fact that I was in my 20s, managing a large business, negotiating with large corporations and winning major uniform contracts. My entire focus was on what I felt I was not doing enough of, the mistakes I was making and how much I dreaded these meetings and feeling completely out of place.
As I have grown, I have been able to reflect on my experiences and behaviour. I have acknowledged my evolution and have learnt the value of truly appreciating oneself. If I had taken the time to practice a little more self-love and a lot less self-criticism, I believe I would have evolved and come into my own a lot quicker.
Here are some tips that have helped me get over impostor syndrome.
Own your success and live in the moment
As over achievers we are often so focused on the next goal or milestone that we take no time to recognise what we have accomplished. Take the time to regularly recognise your achievements and reflect on what you have done over that time.
Stop chasing perfection!
Realise you aren’t perfect, no one is, but there is certainly a huge list of things you are great at. Make a list of your strengths and how you have used these to add value to your business and for those around you.
The pursuit of perfection and the desire to be the very best leaves us feeling anxious and triggers our fear of failure, leaving us terrified to make a mistake. As perfectionists, we put an inordinate amount of pressure on ourselves and forget that we are simply human, and it is okay if we make a mistake.
Understand your strengths and work with them. Note your weaknesses and build on them. And most importantly, recognise that we are all unique and our imperfections are what make us who we are.
Remember you are not alone
Ricky Gervais once said, “No one else knows what they’re doing either”. I try to remind myself this quote when I start to doubt myself. Impostor syndrome is something I continue to battle, I don’t expect it to disappear and I feel better knowing that lots of people around me have very similar experiences. Sharing our feelings and communicating to those we trust when we feel this way is a great way to feel understood and simply just be heard.
While impostor syndrome is common with most of us experiencing it at some stage of our life, it is so important to check in with yourself and nip the niggling feeling of being a fraud from evolving into a more frequent one.
Don’t let the fear of doubt sabotage your success and remind yourself that you have worked hard to get to where you are today.
Taking the time to own your success increases confidence and subconsciously starts to shut down the little impostor on your shoulder telling us we aren’t good enough.
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.