“We as humans often hide away our true selves and become overruled by our inner voices, the ones that tell us to be quiet, not to speak out because we may sound silly or be found out” - Kirstie Stott, NHS
What is Impostor Syndrome?
“Impostor syndrome can be closely related to perfectionism, in which people feel pressure to perform at their absolute best 100% of the time and when they don’t, they feel incompetent and anxious” - Psychology Today
Why does Impostor Syndrome matter to me?
I am very familiar with the eight signs of impostor syndrome like many of you reading this article. According to a 2020 review published on Medical News Today, 9%–82% of people experience impostor syndrome. Let's take a deeper look into the eight signs and how they are intertwined with my life.
1. Work Performance - I failed in my legal career. Why? Fear of getting things wrong and being labelled a failure by colleagues/friends/family, which led to me not taking care of my mental health and physical health (remember your mind quits then your body quits).
2. Taking on responsibility - As I have gotten older, I have realised that I shouldn't be afraid to take on more responsibilities, whether it is financially related or caring for others - it will help me become a stronger man.
3. Self-doubt - Unconfident or even apologetic language is a sign of having impostor syndrome which I use even now. Have you ever started sentences with ‘I think this …’ or ‘I am sorry to interrupt you …’? Don’t do that to yourself. If you know something, confidently state that you know it and do not apologise for interrupting someone when you clearly can tell they are wrong in what they are saying.
4. Attributing success to outside factors - I have a habit of attributing any ‘small win’ to luck or the kindness of others towards me rather than my own hard work.
5. Job dissatisfaction and burnout - I have had jobs where I did not enjoy the work but simply needed the money to pay my bills. This is the reality for many people. When you lose your enthusiasm for your work then you need a change of environment or maybe even a new career. I experienced this in my last legal role where I felt burnt out, I decided that was going to be my last legal role and ended my legal career at the age of 24.
6. Avoid seeking promotion - I have only asked for a promotion once in my entire working career (I got the position eventually). I have never requested a raise in previous roles because I thought that I did not deserve more and had not proved myself worthy of earning that money.
7. Focus on tasks and goal setting - I set myself challenging goals but have often failed to achieve them which has led to me feeling down (I am in many ways an underachiever).
8. Mental health impact - The fear of not being good enough can lead to mental health complications. The person may experience:
Fear of being a Fraud
Lack of self-confidence
Here are a few young British Asians who share their perspectives on impostor syndrome, self-criticism and perfectionism.
Tanbir Ahmed @asianbodycoach is an accredited online fitness coach who has a simple but effective approach to fitness. He has even innovatively applied the 80:20 rule to fitness which has changed the game for fitness fanatics - you can find a detailed explanation of this method on his Instagram profile.
A simple way to overcome perfectionism is taking ‘imperfect action’.
“One way that I have overcome impostor syndrome is realising if something is obvious to me it might not be obvious to my clients or potential clients. For example, how to be in a calorie deficit. I realised if I don’t put my services out there it is almost like doing an injustice to the world as these people will suffer without my help. A lot of people struggle with perfectionism. A simple way to overcome perfectionism is taking ‘imperfect action’. If you are always trying to be perfect all the time, you will procrastinate. Take ‘imperfect action’ by doing things at 60-70% and you will get more things done during the day rather than aiming for 100% and procrastinating. That is why people tend to leave things to the last minute because they are trying to be perfect. It is better to do a task at 60-70% efficiency - you will get through the task sooner. Once you get in that flow state you will then be able to finish any task efficiently”.
Chandni Sembhi is an incredible Young British Asian journalist who has created social media content for many Channel 5 shows, interviewed musicians and written several reviews on albums in popular magazines such as Kerrang Magazine. She recently founded So You Want to Be a Journalist (an Instagram page and Youtube platform) with advice and tips on how to make it in the journalism industry from job applications to interview prep.
“I don’t see myself as a perfectionist, more just getting my work to be as good as I think it could be with the time and resources I have. I would not say that I downplay career wins, I am just very conscious about what I do or don’t share about my life. I definitely enjoy taking on more responsibilities within reason of course. It’s important to recognise what your boundaries are and not committing to doing too much”.
Omar Mehtab is a guy with brilliant comic timing who is currently a broadcast assistant at BBC Click which has an audience of over 330 million viewers. He has produced great social media content for BBC Click and reported on topics such as technology and social media influencers. There is nothing he can't do - he does everything from reporting, producing, filming, editing, directing, and writing across television, radio, and online.
Sometimes you have to take that responsibility despite not necessarily deserving or wanting to do so.
“I am not a perfectionist when it comes to others. I understand people may make mistakes or interpret things differently than I would. Though I don't give myself that same mercy. I am intensely self-critical. I know I wouldn't be able to achieve perfection but I expect the closest thing possible whenever I do something. I play myself down all the time. I see it as a way of grounding myself but also because I genuinely don't see anything I do as beyond the scopes of what can be done by anyone else. So, why celebrate it? It's a stepping stone to more. That means that my own self-confidence suffers as a result as I take the losses harder, but I try to use that as motivation instead. Responsibility is a sign of trust. Sometimes you have to take that responsibility despite not necessarily deserving or wanting to do so. But each time, it's an opportunity to learn and grow”.
Faris is an innovative video creator for brands, events and online platforms with a unique flow that comes straight from the heart. He is a charismatic and down to earth presenter who has worked with The Ibiza Bible, BBC Asian Network and Imjustbait.
Fake it till you make it.
“Yes, I am a perfectionist. I did not realise up until recently how much of a control freak I am, especially professionally. I know how things need to be and I do not mean that in an egotistical way. I know what the client wants. For example, in videos, I know how to film and edit which is why the client hired me. So when I have to recruit a team it is very frustrating when a person is editing the video differently. Fake it till you make it. This is part of the game that we play in this industry, as much as you want to keep it real you also have to brand yourself in this digital age where how you look is how you come across. At the start of my career in my early twenties, I was hyping up things more, even if I was with a celebrity on set as a runner I would take a selfie and post it to show that I worked on this set. People buy into your brand, get excited and follow your journey. Now in my late twenties, I almost feel rude showing what I am doing because it looks like I am showing off. I am so grateful and blessed to do the work that I am doing but you have to find a balance (show your wins and losses). But I would not forgive myself if I downplayed something that I am proud of. But I would never overplay something because I would know that I am lying. People notice if you are not being yourself (social media is the highlight reel of people’s lives that make others feel bad leading to mental health issues). Yes, I do enjoy taking on more responsibilities. Most people would shy away from responsibility but I see it as a sign of progression. I want to take on bigger projects and manage a campaign (the more responsibility, the better)”.
As you can see impostor syndrome is an insidious and unconscious perception of yourself that can prevent many people from achieving their true potential. You can overcome impostor syndrome by simply realising you are a work in progress - give yourself some credit! Don't downplay your achievements, be proud of how much you've achieved.
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