Have you ever felt like you do not belong at the table despite bringing something to the table? Have you ever felt undeserving of a position despite being overqualified? You may be struggling with impostor syndrome. While it is not an official psychological condition, impostor syndrome is known as a condition that affects many high achievers or successful people. It is a denial of personal achievements and competency despite evidences of success.
Last year, I sat in a room filled with business owners, directors, managers, and other individuals in top positions on their jobs. Suddenly, I began to think I did not belong there. An overwhelming feeling of incompetency came upon me. Lies flooded my head as everyone introduced themselves. I told myself, “you do not have a quarter of the experience these people have, you should not be here”, “you are not that smart, you are here by chance”, “You do not know anything”…… Those lies and self-defeating thoughts were like arrows sent to weaken my spirit. I felt like I was a fraud and I would not meet the expectations of the doctoral program other successful people in the room were pursuing.
I have found myself feeling incompetent on several occasions even when I am overqualified for a position. I doubt myself and look for affirmation. That is what impostor syndrome does to me. It makes me feel fake and unworthy to sit at the table.
God in his mercy revealed two things to me about my struggle with impostor syndrome- why I experience it and how to overcome it.
When I experience impostor syndrome it is always due to self-reliance. A self-reliant person depends on personal power/strengths. It is sad that I sometimes forget that God is the one who makes me competent. I forget God, the one who made it possible for me to sit at the table with great people. When I depend on my strength to accomplish whatever task is before me, I feel incompetent. I feel like a fraud, hoping no one would find out I do not know much even when I know many things. The truth is that I become an impostor when I do not give God the glory for my achievements. For it is God who gives me unusual favour, good health and sound mind to accomplish great things in life.
Deuteronomy 8:10-11 (NIV)
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
Honestly, the good thing about impostor syndrome is that it keeps me from falling into pride. It keeps me humble and dependent on God. Impostor syndrome constantly reminds me that I can do nothing without Jesus Christ (John 15:5).
To overcome impostor syndrome, I set my eyes on the God who makes me competent and remind myself that God is the source of my success. For without God, I can do nothing. I do not need to look to myself to make things happen for me, I can always look to God.
As I grow spiritually or in my walk with Jesus Christ, I will get to a place where impostor syndrome would become a past issue. God is helping me grow in faith, and He is bringing me to a place where I am completely God-reliant in every season, no moment of self-reliance. I want to live a life FULLY CONSCIOUS of the one with whom I can do the impossible and keep my eyes fixed on the one who deserves the glory for my accomplishments.
John 15:5 (TPT)
“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless.”