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Dr sasha nair

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Does Imposter Syndrome really need a cure?

I have always hated the cliché “fake it till you make it”.  Why in the world would anyone want to be a fake?  It sounds so deceptive.  Or is it just a funny way to saying “act confident” even if you don’t feel confident so you don’t ruin your credibility and make people think you know less than you do by appearing as a bumbling mess of nerves?

I remember starting my first job as a junior doctor.  I felt like such a fake.  Surely I didn’t know enough to be a doctor.  But I asked for help when I needed it, and progressed my career to feeling like a fake as a new endocrinology registrar.  Surely I didn’t know enough endocrinology for that (never mind that the whole point of being a training registrar was to learn that stuff).  But I asked questions, learned along the way and progressed to not wanting to say out loud I was a qualified Endocrinologist in case people expected me to act like one…you get the picture.

And maybe you have had your own experiences with Imposter Syndrome.  But how do you know when you have the “syndrome” or if you are actually an imposter?

Checklist to know you are an imposter

-you say things that aren’t true

-you exaggerated your skills/knowledge

-you have had one of the gang from Scooby Doo yank a mask off your face and yell “it’s an imposter” at you

But if you have gotten to where you are legitimately but have a confidence crisis despite having had good feedback from people who know what they are talking about, it’s probably the syndrome.

Is Imposter Syndrome a bad thing to have?  Yes and no.

It’s good if it means you realise your limitations and know when to seek other resources or opinions.  It’s good that you feel a bit uncomfortable because that means you are challenging yourself.  The best experts never think they finally know everything about everything, but continue to learn and grow.

But if the discomfort is so strong it’s paralysing, then it’s not such a good thing.  Maybe then a confidence cure would be nice.

Do we really need to fake confidence?  Only if you want to be confident that you already know everything you need to know.  Instead, why not claim the confidence that you know when you don’t know something but that you can figure out how to get the answer?

There’s no need to fake it, it just depends what you decide the “it” is.

Puppy wearing thick glasses

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