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One of the biggest challenges in my life right now is starting a job in a new career field. It has been wonderfully rewarding and also terribly stressful. Each day I have arrived at work both excited to share everything that I learned in two rigorous years at school and terrified that everyone will find out how “green” I still am. Basically, I feel like a huge imposter.
I should clarify at this point, that I am entirely qualified for my new career. I have passed all the exams and accreditations. I have shown myself to be entirely competent and even receive several complements at work. Despite all of this, self-doubt still creeps in and makes me feel like I don’t belong.
I know from the experiences I have had in life that sometimes, in order to excel at something new, the best thing to do is to just try to muster all the confidence you can and pretend like you know exactly what you are doing until you actually do. Fake it ’til you make it! If you really don’t know something it is best to admit that, of course, but constantly not trying things just because you aren’t comfortable with them yet or haven’t done them before will hold you back both professionally and personally.
When I was a kid, everything seemed so easy. I knew that each day would be filled with new experiences and that was exciting. Now, the unknown often just seems more horrifying than exciting. Charging forth into a new situation with hopes for the best possible outcome doesn’t come naturally anymore. As a child, I also thought that adults always knew exactly what to do. It wasn’t until adulthood that I discovered that most people feel like impostors- especially when faced with new challenges or life situations.
So for now, even though each day is filled with mistakes and triumphs, I continue to wake each day and dress the part and try to stand tall and feign confidence in my abilities. It’s stressful for sure. Especially because it very much goes against my nature not to question myself every second of the day… but I guess that’s part of this “adulting” thing that we’ve all started to make a big deal about.
My hope is that, at some point in my career, pretending to be confident will turn into actual confidence in my abilities. Maybe some day I will wake up and enter work with the ease of someone who has enough experience behind them not to feel anxiety about every decision. Until then, I’ll just have to take it one moment at a time.
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Do you ever feel like an imposter? How do you deal with self-doubt or being uncomfortable in new situations?