Glassdoor is proud to partner with the incredible storytelling organization The Moth to bring you stories of work, self, and perseverance. The following is one of the stories we will share over the next few weeks that we hope will inspire you to know your worth and reach for what you deserve.
There are moments in life that create a seismic shift in how we view ourselves, but few are as profound as the transition into parenthood. Bringing a child into your life will impact when you eat and sleep, how you spend money, and the career path you choose. It can also challenge how you view yourself, both as a person and a professional.
That’s a feeling Caroline Abilat Lozirah can relate to. Six months after the birth of her son, Caroline was trying to select an outfit for her first day back at work. The task wasn’t as simple as she expected.
“Before this time, I had been that person that had great hair. I had great shoes. Everybody in my workplace knew that I was that sharp dresser. I was confident. I knew who I was every morning,” Caroline said in a story she shared with The Moth.
The woman Caroline saw in the mirror that day had messy hair and dull eyes. She didn’t fit into her office clothes. She didn’t look like the confident, intelligent leader that she had been. Nervous about what her boss and colleagues would think, Caroline questioned whether she should go back at all.
She was capable and accomplished but suddenly found she was questioning herself as a professional — a phenomenon many like to call imposter syndrome.
Identifying imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome — first identified in the late 70s by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes — is a phenomenon most commonly associated with feelings of self-doubt in the workplace. Workers will question if they’re good enough at their jobs or worthy of a position, absent any evidence to the contrary. Ever hear someone brag about their “fake it til you make it” ethos? Imposter syndrome reveals the inverse problem: capable professionals are worried that they won’t make it.
It’s natural to be anxious in the face of change — especially a change like becoming a parent. In fact, researchers have estimated that 70% of the population will experience imposter syndrome at some point. The first step to coping with imposter syndrome is to identify those feelings of doubt for what they are and take note of your accomplishments. It can also be helpful to ask someone else to act as a sounding board.
Why support networks matter
Talking to friends or even other professionals within your community can help redirect your attention to your achievements. That’s why imposter syndrome is a popular topic on Fishbowl, Glassdoor’s online workplace community. Even though most people struggle with imposter syndrome at some point, admitting insecurities to real-life friends can be scary. Fishbowl’s community of encouraging contributors can be a less-intimidating alternative.
Feel like your skills took a hit during time away from work? Questioning if you can be a great parent and a great addition to your company? Be open about it. The anonymity of Fishbowl empowers people to voice their concerns and have honest conversations without the fear of judgment.
Wherever you seek it, outside feedback can help you see yourself in a new way. It could come through frank discussions about the struggles of being the only parent on a team at work or even learning how your salary stacks up against other people in your company or industry through Glassdoor’s salary tool. The simple act of discovering you’re not alone in your experience can help ease the burden of imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome exit strategy
It’s hard to pull yourself out of the spiral of self-doubt. On the day she was scheduled to return from maternity leave, Caroline admits she was consumed with fear, questioning who she had become. Ultimately, her pride in her son helped reset her outlook and return to the office.
Seeing yourself differently takes practice. Highlighting your wins, whether at home or at work, gets easier with a trusted support network. Set yourself up for success by tapping into resources online or in the real world that can help you refocus when imposter syndrome creeps in.