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Ashima Sood Ashima Sood

Flipping the script on Imposter Syndrome

Defeating my internalized barriers

After graduating with a masters in Interaction Design, the first role I acquired as a UX designer was at Sprint. I entered the campus and immediately felt like I was too big for my boots, this was even before any work came my way. Some days this feeling was overwhelming, I was experiencing Imposter Syndrome.

Pauline Rose Clance coined the term 'Imposter Syndrome', It's officially described as “‘high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”

I decided that this outlook of mine needed to change, I started paying attention to my thoughts. It was a continuous battle with myself, kept saying to myself 'Constant vigilance' - quoting Mad Eye Moody, a beloved character from the Harry Potter series since it was the easiest way to condition this behavior into my routine.

Gradually I realised that once I familiarized myself with the product, I could collaborate with individuals who had decades of experience and contribute effectively as a team member. Before leaving, I took on a large project that made a considerable impact on the B2B shopping experience that directly affects device and plan sales- I still take pride in this achievement.

I had successfully navigated my way out of thought patterns that put me down and triumphed over my imposter syndrome. Some days I still find myself breaking into thoughts that are characteristic of the syndrome- I understand that this is going to be an ongoing struggle.

Traits of Imposter Syndrome

A visual representation that defines Imposter Syndrome

I took it upon myself to research this to try to comprehend the more general causes and effects of Imposter Syndrome. Here are some of the interesting findings I came across-

"Interestingly, research shows that impostor syndrome is more likely to affect women and those who ‘excelled in areas that were not always accessible to them’." - 23 Code Street

"While fixated on their flaws, those with IP (Imposter Phenomenon) are afraid of shame and humiliation associated with failure and the feelings of foolishness. And finally, those with IP tendencies will overestimate others’ intellect and competence while comparing their weaknesses with the strengths of others." - Queeny Hoang

Maya Angelou, Seth Godin, Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Watson- They all have something in common- they've admitted to having suffered from imposter syndrome.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

The first step in overcoming IS is recognizing and accepting that one is experiencing it. I found several helpful tips here. One of the tips in the article that I appreciated was keeping a list of "achievements, highlights, contributions at work and learnings." 

Realizing that this will be an ongoing battle and making sure to tackle the negativity constantly is important too. Remember 'Constant vigilance.

Resources and fun reads

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FAHANMI Ambrose Wuraoluwa
InVision ambassador FAHANMI Ambrose Wuraoluwa , ambassador
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This is quite eye opening!

Surprisingly, reading this made me realize how often I fall into patterns of underestimating my skills and thinking every other regular person can do same or better.

Thanks for putting this up.Really helpful and insightful.

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