Imposter Syndrome And Anxiety

Have you ever glazed off reality and looked at it as if you are standing outside a house that you observe through the window? Do you ever feel like an actor that his everyday life has become a reciting of meaningless words just so you finish the show you participate in unwillingly? If this rings any bell, you have been part of an uprising condition that gains ground day by day, and it’s called the imposter syndrome.

A few years back I found myself in a working environment I could hardly relate at all. Everything seemed so different from what I was used to. People, behaviors, processes. I found myself passing my days just trying to fit into it instead of being actually immersed in the environment like in any other case. So what is the difference exactly when you are under this dark cloud? In both cases, it seems as if you are doing the same things. You are moving the same way and you are speaking the same words. You still get up in the morning having your nice latte and greet your good mornings to everyone.

But the problem is that in the first scenario you are merely following a script on what to do to blend in and you constantly worry that you might be discovered for it. You are like a chicken that keeps spinning its head around keeping an eye on the next predator that is gonna show up and uncover your dishonesty when you won’t be able to do anything to avoid the embarrassment. It’s like you somehow invaded into your body and found yourself into that situation but without really grasping what is going on or what is your role in it. A sure sign of being an imposter of the life you are living in and that you haven’t fully accepted.

What Is The Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is believing you are a fraud. It’s when you think people are gonna find out you are not good enough while all the evidence show that there is no base for these thoughts. And surely most people experience the imposter syndrome through this manifestation of being judged on their skills and qualities. But the main underlying rule of experiencing the imposter syndrome is not the part of you not being enough, as it is the part of others taking advantage of your perceived vulnerability. And this is something that can happen in multiple ways, in or out of the working environment.

“People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem they are held in. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think — and that soon enough, people will discover the truth” — phycology today

So what exactly is going on when you find yourself under the influence of this phycological hurdle? What are the underlying elements that are stopping you from really permitting yourself to indulge in the present moment?

Imposter syndrome happens when your unconscious is perceiving certain threats that you refuse to acknowledge and give the appropriate care to. It’s a sign that certain thoughts are looming in your mind unbothered and are stopping you from really being let go in the situation you are in.

The most frequent example of imposter syndrome happens every time you try something for the first time. If you happen to remember the time you tried to ride a bicycle in front of your friends or play a musical instrument, you got a good glimpse of what it means to feel an imposter. Or maybe the case that someone sits on his bosses chair when it happens to be empty, pretending to have his position. In all the above cases you are adopting an identity, you have never seen yourself in, as you relate to the world, and you haven’t experienced it in the past.

You are found in a position you haven’t faced your reflection in other people’s acceptance the way you might have in other’s areas you’ve been exposed to already. It could be that fears rise through the lack of experience and the consequent anticipation of judgment that this entails or that you are in an environment that you don’t quite trust the people in it and thus you have a constant feeling of worry. In my case, it was an environment that I understood nothing about its history, culture, or temperament. I was constantly trying my best to blend in and in doing so I was copying behavioral patterns that didn’t really belong to me and deep down I knew they weren’t representative of who I was. But unless there is a way to merge this gap and make the connection of the little differences there is gonna be this underlying fear looming constantly all around you. You are gonna feel as if you are playing in a theater that you barely know the words and you need to improvise in front of the audience in an embarrassing fashion. There is no doubt that the main ingredient of feeling this way is lack of trust.

“Trust is a product of vulnerability that grows over time and requires work, attention, and full engagement.” — Brené Brown

How Imposter Syndrome Relates To Anxiety

So having been through this and the afterthoughts of an inconvenient experience I couldn’t help but think about the ways it relates to anxiety. After all, in both cases, the basic ingredient of fear seems to be quite abundant and it seems that these two have more in common together than they have differences.

“Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous.” — Kimberly Holland

The same set of uneasiness seems to exist in anxiety the same way it does in the imposter syndrome, although there is one crucial difference. Anxiety refers mostly to a point in the future that you have no control over and you get to be quite fearful of it. It is mostly something that is out of your hands and you have no actions to take other than pray for something good to happen. Imposter syndrome is mostly coming from the inability to relate to your current situation in a way that is trustable and induces safety. It’s like you are confronting a game you would rather not participate in at all and feels dangerous and foreign.

What You Can Do To Deal With It

As said previously the syndrome has its base on the fear of being exposed to a perceived vulnerability. And this is little sentence hides the two elements you need to scrutinize in order to reach the core of the issue.

Check how real is the vulnerability

The first thing is to examine the actual flaw you have spotted on you and question how true it really is. Could it be that you are depicting signs of perfectionism and extreme standards that are beyond the realm of the practical world? Are there really so high expectations or is it mostly an idea that exists only in your mind? In most cases even when the perceived flaw is true people are much more understanding than what we would think they would be.

Examine the fear of being judged

It could be quite surprising to realize that many times this fear is a groundless, illogical construct that has no base in reality. Having an extreme sensitivity that others may try to get you can be a sign that you have lost trust in the environment you are in and if that is the cause maybe it is worth the time and trouble to search the reasons it feels like this. This fear may be a sign that you haven’t put the time in to understand where the people around you are coming from and you have projected injust motives on them. It’s incredible how little people think about our own problems and how occupied they are with theirs. Most of the time they have their own issues to deal with and have no intention of bothering with ours.

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