Jane had joined a new workplace recently and as the weeks passed by and the work pressure building up, she had a gut feeling that she’s contracted the imposter syndrome. But how did she come to that realization? And when did it happen?
Imposter syndrome: Is it just another fad brewing up?
The story of Jane needs to be followed carefully to understand what happens when a person states that they have an imposter syndrome.
Jane recently joined a bank in the management position. The banking sector is a difficult industry to make it big and she had all the aspirations to eventually be the banking superstar that she had envisioned. However, things didn’t turn out so well for Jane.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, her workload never seemed to settle or slowdown. Meetings after meetings and piles of paperwork to go through every day, Jane slowly started stressing out on the smaller things. Work became a stressful place for her as she never wanted to pass through an executive who might question her on her work progress. Jane tried her best to avoid people whenever she could.
One day, she went into the boardroom with her well-made presentation. However, during her presentation, one of the executives made a startling revelation about the facts used in her presentation. Unsure of her figures, Jane started to tremble and lost her calm. During this, she saw all eyes on her as she tried to push through a presentation that was now criticized by the senior management. What should I do, Jane started to panic.
The rest of the presentation went on without any hiccups, and as everyone left the boardroom and the lights went dim, Jane found herself staring in the dark thinking about what had happened. Did she miss her chance to impress the senior management? Did she completely blow her presentation out of proportion?
Since then, things have never felt the same with Jane. Although the workload remained consistent like previous months, Jane felt overburdened by the thought that she wasn’t good enough. That anything she did had issues and errors. Jane let the feeling consume her as she pushed through her deadlines. Without focusing on her mental health, Jane slowly started to slip into the dark.
Jane skipped on many different opportunities that were presented to her. The promotion that she had strived for was no more in her sight. Jane felt that she needed to get better and did not deserve the promotion anymore.
One day she found herself on the internet, self-diagnosing her mental state, and came across the imposter syndrome. She read articles and surprisingly agreed with all of them. Self-diagnosing herself as having an imposter syndrome, Jane went into a dwindling spiral further affecting her work performance and even mental health.
Jane could continue no more, she left the bank to stay at home. This further put a dent in making her feel “worthless”. She stopped eating food because she felt that she didn’t deserve it. She became a victim by herself. Feeling that she wasn’t good enough to live, Jane took her own life.
The story of Jane is a heartbreaking one because most of the people in the world go through this phase. Not many push themselves to the brink of committing suicide but there are almost 48,000 people in the United States that commit suicide which is a startling figure. Many go through it because they feel that they’re “worthless”.
An individual and cultural revolution is key to escaping imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is more common in women than in men because women feel the need to be validated. The feelings they feel are more heightened than what men feel during criticisms of their work is often because of their curious nature.
However, imposter syndrome is more common against women of color. An Indian woman or a black woman or any other woman of color has more chances of getting the imposter syndrome than anyone else. This is because, in the United States, the battle of equality among colored skins or the battle against racism still hasn’t concluded. Colored people are still subjugated by society and hence when these people enter the workforce, the thought of this remains in their minds.
Think about it. If you were a woman of color in a workplace in the United States, do you think you’ll ever belong there? With rampant racism and cultural misappropriation, thoughts about not being worthy or not good enough can spur in anyone’s mind which leads to self-doubt. Self-doubt is the biggest enemy here as it pushes one to develop the imposter syndrome.
Let’s look at it this way. The system is the main issue here. Why is there imposter syndrome? Why does one feel like they’re not “worthy”? Workplaces are known to reward men with confidence by giving them promotions, bonuses, and so on. However, the same workplace criticizes white women because they’re not confident enough, women of color because they are way too overconfident and women in general because their confidence is mostly misplaced or inappropriate in many situations. Such cultural routine often affects many people and this is where we come to the main heading of this section and that is Individual and cultural revolution is key to escaping imposter syndrome.
Toxicity and bias need to be eliminated from the workplace or in society in general otherwise the imposter syndrome will keep on existing. It feeds on the negativity from someone being toxic or it is attracted to cultural misappropriation or racism in many cases. Imposter syndrome from employees can be eliminated by creating a culture that addresses the issue of biases or the issue of racism. There should be a mixed working culture.
Look at the recent start-ups in the country. Most of these have a thriving culture that promotes leadership and team building. These start-ups are known to be a shift from the traditional office working environment. Women and others are consumed by imposter syndrome letting it affect their life. Now imagine these people, free of this imposter syndrome, contributing and leading the country forward just because of a change in the work culture. Isn’t that something every corporation, institution, and US government should strive for?