The phenomenon that some expat partners take the plunge and start their own business abroad has interested me since we moved countries a couple of years ago. I have already talked about the phenomenon of Expat-Preneurship here. Today, I want you to introduce you to an inspiring entrepreneur who actually started a business that might be of benefit to a lot of us before moving places.
The Impostor Syndrom: Why it is such a big deal for Expats/Expat Partners
The Impostor syndrom: Big deals for expats?!
The Impostor Syndrom: Why it is such a big deal for Expats/Expat Partners
I recently joined a webinar about the Impostor Syndrom amongst the Expat community by Monika Evje. It was really interesting and offered a lot of helpful information, so I did some further research and decided to share my learnings in a blog post.
WHAT THE HELL IS THE IMPOSTOR SYNDROM?
Let’s start with a short definition. You might not have heard the term Impostor Syndrom, but I am sure you are familiar with the concept:
It is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. Especially women are facing this fear in the workplace where they are not convinced about their skill and think they got the job by mistake and someday the boss or colleague will find out about it.
The Impostor Syndrom is not a unique thing at all
Generally speaking, about 70% of people state they are facing the Imposter Syndrom at least once in their life. This is even more common in the Expat and women of color communities regardless of their profession. Even Sheryl Sandberg, CMO of Facebook, talked in her well-known book “Lean-in” about her own experience with the Impostor Syndrom! “Every time that I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself – or even excelled – I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jog would be up.”
Let's connect on Social Media
Want some good vibes in your mail?
Typical symptoms of the Impostor Syndrom
Many people facing this are afraid that colleagues or supervisors expect too much from them. Especially women start to avoid extra responsibilities but bury themselves in work they feel familiar with to stay busy. The worst thing about this psychological phenomenon is that it can turn into a vicious circle. The more you excel in work, the more you fear that soon everyone will realize that you are fake. It’s reversed logic, but it’s hard to stay confident once the thought of not being enough or even worse “being fake” is stuck in your mindset.
Why is the Impostor Syndrome to common amongst Expats?
Expats are the masters of growth and change. However, new Expats are faced with a massive learning curve before mastering it. This learning curve brings a lot of uncertainty and trial and error experiences with it. Expats have less safe havens such as a supporting social network in times of new beginnings. At a certain level, the feeling of new beginnings can become overwhelming. Thankfully, this phase is often followed by an adaptation phase, but it can often take some time to reach this stage.
In combination with the Impostor Syndrom, Expats start to question their entitlement to be in this new country, this new company, this new home.
I love the way Monika Evje of the Expat Woman Webinar has put it:
On top of the regular feelings of inadequacy you may be feeling:
“It’s not my country, I don’t really belong here.” –
“I have an accent, it’s clear I’m not from here.”
“I look different, I don’t fit in.”
“I don’t have all the cultural code.” (e.g. I don’t understand the small talk topics about local sports or VIPs)
Interestingly enough I found out that there is another group of people struggling with the Impostor Syndrom, and it tells a lot about it: Data Scientists and especially women in tech. One reason is that this field fo work is still relatively new and develops very quickly. At the same time, many supervisors or HR-experts who hire Data Scientists have no clear picture of the exact dimensions of the job. Many hired employees in that field feel like fraud as they get a lot of recognition by people who are no professional experts in that field.
How to overcome the Impostor Syndrom
There are many ways to overcome the Imposter Syndrom, but only a few might be helpful depending on your character.
In my experience with my clients and also from my own journey, the most helpful approach is to document accomplishments. You are the most qualified person to convince yourself that you are not fake as you are the only person who talked you into that in the first place. Therefore it is tremendously helpful to write down positive feedback from clients, colleagues, superiors, family members and friends. When I started my journey with Share-the-Love, I did the exact same thing. Every time I got supporting feedback via personal messages or social media comments I was writing it down in a small book, and I am so glad I did this as you will forget about these lovely messages in the endless universe of digital notes. It is also tremendously helpful if you are in need of some focus and want to be reminded of your original business purpose. If you are applying for jobs in the corporate world, it is also excellent preparation for a job interview. It will not only boost your confidence but give you the best arguments for the meeting with a potential new employer.
If you are feeling too much into the vicious circle of the Impostor Syndrom, you might think that there is no positive feedback. Let me assure you that this not the case. I recommend talking with friends and family first. Most of the times they remind you about accomplishments in the past and prep you to dig deeper. In this context, I can also highly recommend coaching. Coaching is nothing else than a conversation between a qualified person who has nothing on their own agenda than helping you to help yourself. A good coach can use specific conversation techniques to take you back in time and remind you of accomplishments and the skillset you are bringing along. Other ways to battle the Impostor Syndrome mentioned in the great webinar by Monika Evje:
I am a big fan of taking time for reflection. Whenever you have a moment of feeling like fraud, try to stand still for a sec and reflect where this feeling is coming from. Listen to yourself and watch out for patterns. If this fear is coming up, again and again, you might find a sticky note helpful – create a little reminder that will help you exit the vicious cycle. Know that the feeling will pass and that you are not the first nor the last person dealing with it. We all bring along a very unique skill set that is shaped not only by our achievement and study but by our experiences and mindset.
If you have some further advice or want to share your own personal experience please feel free to use the comment section below!
Thanks for sharing the love and stopping by
Share this article with a friend and share the love:
You also might like:
We just came back from a one week vacation to Florida, and there have been a couple of things that caught my eyes. We loved the sun after a brutal winter in Chicago tried to do a more relaxing vacation. So we concentrated on the South of Florida visiting Fort Meyers, Sanibel Island, Naples, Key West, and Miami (Beach). Spending some quality time there I could not stop realizing some interesting things, and I thought I had to share it with you to see if you had similar experiences.
In this post, I want to share with you the results of my very own survey I did with about 200 expat partners around the world. I have asked them about their job situation, work permit situation and how they are evaluating their career after moving abroad. In the following, I will share my top 5 learnings as well as an infographic with more details.
Ever heard of FBA? I interviewed Dan, a German expat partner living in the US, about his blogging experience and he introduced me to this great portable career option. Learn more about it.
Being a side-hustler is a huge thing in the US! You just have to go to a Starbucks on the weekend, and you will hardly find a place as everyone is sitting in front of their laptop, starring at the screen with high concentration and sipping on their one coffee for hours.
Finding friends abroad is a challenging but rewarding process. In the expat world, friendship is often intense, short, and always comes with a good-bye at a certain point. In this blog post, I talk about how to approach this emotional topic and stay in contact throughout the shared time abroad.