How To Banish Imposter Syndrome

Adultify your confidence

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The time has come to accept the inevitable: You’re growing up. Embrace it! Becoming an adult can be daunting, but not when you have guides as easy (and, let’s face it, as cool) as the ones in our Adultify series. Now, you won’t ever have to utter that cringe-worthy term “adulting” when you accomplish something, like doing your laundry—you know, basic, responsible grown-up activities—because you’ll know these truths to be self-evident.

Confidence isn't something exclusively associated with adulthood. It's one of those convoluted terms people have been using willy nilly your whole life when they have nothing more thoughtful to say. Like, “Don't worry, just be confident." Oh, is it that easy? Okay, let me just do that then. Thanks for the grand advice.

Being confident can be extremely difficult, and something we have to build one tiny piece at a time over the course of years. True inner peace and confidence—unlike that cheap imitation of confidence you spend your youth fronting because you’re smart enough to know that confidence is sexy, and you definitely want to be sexy—is really a never-ending battle, and, as you may have noticed, some people never quite get there. Which is such a pity, because some of the best things in life—from careers we truly enjoy to fulfilling romantic relationship—are much, much easier to obtain when you believe in yourself.

However, in 2016 confidence is more complex and harder to grasp than ever. A culture obsessed with perfection has led to one of our generation’s biggest plagues: imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is the mindset that we don’t deserve to be where we are. We fear that we’re not good enough, smart enough, that we somehow actually lucked into success rather than earning it. It’s the little voice in your head that tells you not to speak up in a meeting or the one that says the project you’ve been working on for months still isn’t good enough to show anyone. It can be debilitating and, when left unchecked, grind our forward motion to a halt. But when you can start to shed that self-doubt and focus on owning your shit? Now that’s real adulting. We tapped two experts in the field—Sarah Kaler, executive leadership coach behind Soul Powered, and Claire Shipman, journalist and author of The Confidence Code—for some advice on growing and stabilizing your confidence for long-term happiness.

P.S. You’re great.