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Feeling Like a Fraud? Social Media Might Be Giving You Imposter Syndrome.

We’ve all been there… it’s 9:00 pm, you’re winding down from a busy day, you grab your phone and open Instagram. You start scrolling through your feed, looking at the photos and your brain starts doing something like this:

“Wow, Sarah is in Mexico with her family again. It looks beautiful.”

“Oh my, Cathy is back at the gym, she’s looking amazing!”

“Holy smokes, Julia secured another client this month. She’s really killing it.”

After a while, you close your phone and crawl into bed for the night. Now, your brain starts to do this:

“Mexico looked nice, I wish I was there.” “I need to adjust my schedule and make more time to go to the gym.”

“Why am I not as successful as her? Maybe I’m not good at what I do.”

There’s no better way to make yourself feel small than by comparing yourself to others. It’s a habit that makes you doubt your own talents and abilities. These feelings certainly affect our personal lives and usually spill over into our professional lives. Often, even when you receive recognition for things, you may feel phony - like you don’t belong where you are and you only got there through dumb luck. You feel like a fraud. These feelings are called imposter syndrome (a.k.a IS) and it’s very common for people to experience it no matter their social status, work history or degree of expertise.

Fun fact, the term is not as modern as you may think. It was first used by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s. It was originally thought to apply mostly to high-achieving women. Since then, it has been recognized as more widely experienced.

IS has a variety of negative effects on our everyday life. It can lead to increased anxiety or depression, loss of sleep, low self-esteem, stress and loneliness. As someone who spends the majority of their time on social media for work, I am guilty of falling victim to IS and letting it take control of my emotions and life - sometimes for days at a time. However, there are ways to overcome those feelings and it’s important to recognize when you’re having them and use healthy tools to move forward.

Here are 4 tips to help you battle IS and be your most authentic self:

1. Limit Social Media Usage

Giving up social media entirely can be difficult and not always possible, but taking breaks and recognizing when you need them is important. Create a time limit for your usage that works for you and ensure you take breaks to focus on the people/activities that are most important to you.

2. Practice Gratitude

Take a moment at least once a week to write down things that you are grateful for, proud of and make you happy. You’ll be surprised how that can flip the negative narrative that’s been running through your mind.

3. Practice Quality Over Quantity

When posting, post those things that make you feel good about yourself, not because you’re competing with someone else. Share your achievements and emotions - you’ll be surprised how many people share those same feelings and are rooting for you. Don’t post because you feel you have to or because someone else did. But remember, quality in this situation does not translate to perfection. Share those big moments, but don’t forget to share the little ones too. Just be you.

4. Tell Your Story

You have worked hard, you have overcome challenges and you got yourself where you are today - no one else did that for you. So please, tell the world! You are not an imposter if you are telling everyone about yourself. You know you best. Share the wins and the losses. Turn that 2-dimensional profile pic into a 3-dimensional story. It will humanize you in a positive way and others will see that. The best part of sharing your story? No one else has it.

Staying grounded and sharing material you’re comfortable with that only you can share gives you a fighting chance to not only mitigate the voice of IS but also to be heard within your community. Go ahead, share your story. We can’t wait to watch you grow.

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