Imposter Syndrome

I have been in the mental health field for almost 25 years, and it was not until I started working here that I became aware of Imposter Syndrome. I also realized that while I had not even heard of it, I have suffered greatly from it.

As a young child, I was diagnosed with a severe learning/processing disorder. Basically, for me, every test I have ever taken has been an exercise in overcoming fear. Unfortunately, it has also been an exercise in battling feelings of incompetency.

So, how does one keep going while constantly battling feelings of being a fraud?

  1. Don’t quit. Instead, determine that you have a goal and that you will not allow fear to keep you from reaching that goal. You define who you become, not your fears.
  2. Fail greatly. Learn and adjust when you fail. Determine that a failure is only a sign that you might need to take another path. Also, know that you will not have to wonder what might have been later in your life. There is value and honor in the effort.
  3. Find your worth and value in something other than work. 
  4. If you are anxious about completing a particular task, think about a task that you have mastered but were worried about in the past. With time and training, you will also master this task just as you did the other.
  5. Become focused on helping others who are in the same situation as you. For example, in one academy I was in, the only way we could graduate was by working as a team and helping each other.

Lastly, I would like to share a poem that has meant a great deal to me over the years. It has been a great source of encouragement for me. It was written by Theodore Roosevelt and is called, “The Man in the Arena.”

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the area, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”

Michael Hawkins

Michael Hawkins, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH). With almost 25 years of experience as a counselor, he works with clinicians, students, staff, and clients—compassionately attending to the human needs that arise in the practice of veterinary medicine. Counselor’s Corner is a blog devoted to that purpose. BACK TO BLOG