I will never forget my first day of nurse anesthesia school. I was excited but also scared to death. I felt ready but already overwhelmed.
There I sat in a room filled with what appeared to be confident, smart, and brilliant minded ICU nurses. They looked so much younger with no anxiety about what laid ahead.
The whole day I kept saying to myself- “What in the world was I thinking? I can’t believe I am here. I can’t do this. I am never going to learn this material.”
Due to this way of thinking, I spent my first 6 months of CRNA school speaking with a counselor every week. This is where I first learned about impostor syndrome and how it nearly destroyed everything I worked so hard for.
What is impostor syndrome
Luckily, there is a name for what I felt. Actually what we all have likely felt. It is impostor syndrome.
It is a phenomenon where a successful individual finds themselves surrounded by people who are just as accomplished, if not more. And they have this overwhelming sense of being a fraud, a feeling of not being good enough for what they encounter or the success they’ve achieved.
This syndrome was first described by psychologists in 1978. Research suggests that approximately 70% of people today will experience impostor syndrome in their lifetime. We also know from research, this way of thinking can lead to many detrimental mental health disturbances. Like stress, anxiety, low self- esteem and even depression.
Impostor syndrome tends to be more prevalent among women, minorities and high- achievers. It can also be more common to those embarking on a new endeavor. Which is why graduate students are particularly vulnerable. As a result, this syndrome is really good at discouraging you from pursuing new opportunities, exploring new ideas or even living in peace.
How can you overcome it? I am happy that my story didn’t end because of impostor syndrome. There are a number of ways to fight back against it. Here are a few tips I learned which may help overcome this syndrome and boost your self- confidence.
List all your accomplishments
More often than not, most people forget all their accomplishments but instead focus more on their failures. Today make a conscious effort to look more at your wins than losses. Whenever you begin self- doubting your ability to accomplish the task in front of you, just pull out your list of great achievements to remind yourself of all you’ve done.
Speak verbal self- affirmations
Simple positive and uplifting affirmations (such as “I deserve to be successful and happy”) may have a huge positive impact on your self- confidence. Research shows you can actually change your way of thinking and how you see yourself by speaking these types of things out loud on a regular basis.
Visualize your way to success
My counselor would often tell me to look past my current circumstances or past failures in order to pass my classes. And more importantly, look towards the end goal which was to become a CRNA. So in order to achieve your biggest goals and desires, you have to picture yourself victorious and successful.
Share your thoughts
Discuss your feelings with a significant other, friend or mentor. Speaking to someone prevents these irrational thoughts from festering any longer. Hopefully, you will get a great pep talk that will both boost your spirits and self- esteem.
Oftentimes speaking with a counselor or therapist like I did is required to overcome impostor syndrome. While it may feel uncomfortable or scary to seek help, just understand that this syndrome will only hold you back from living your best life. Anyone who can help you dislodge this incorrect way of thinking will get you one step closer to your goals in life.
Regardless of feeling like a fraud, the best way to get over impostor syndrome is to pursue your goals anyway. If you take a chance and face your fears, then you can do anything. It takes more courage to do the things which you fear or think is the most challenging. After all, you will never know if you can succeed if you don’t try.
Of course, overcoming this syndrome won’t happen overnight. But there are definitely ways to prevent it from having power over your life. Therefore, take ownership of your mindset and successes. The time is now to stop imposter syndrome from holding you back from achieving whatever you desire. Have you ever experienced impostor syndrome? And how do you plan to stop it or what tips can you provide?
All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.