The Impostor syndrom: Big deals for expats?!
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:
Embracing a new beginning abroad is no easy feat, especially when it comes to restarting or reinventing your career in unfamiliar territories. Discover how the “New Roots” program stands as a beacon of support and guidance, nurturing expat partners to forge successful career paths in a new country.
Discover key findings from a new study that looks at how expat partners manage their careers while living abroad. This information is important for anyone thinking about moving overseas and for companies that want to support their international staff.
Discover the “New Roots” program, your sanctuary of support and enrichment as you begin your life in a new country. Designed specifically for expat partners, this program will assist you in adapting to new cultures and building a fulfilling life in your new home. Read on to explore how I can help you navigate this exciting journey.
What do you actually know about expat partners and career planning? Numerous extensive academic studies have dealt with the question of how the career of partners who go abroad for a certain period of time for the partner’s job is affected. In this article, I’ll give you a quick run-through of some of the hot topics that are known about this.
Re-entering the job market after a longer career break can be a daunting task. Many people who take time off from their careers for various reasons such as raising a family, caring for a loved one, or pursuing further education can find it difficult to re-enter the workforce. This is because the job market is constantly evolving, and the skills and experience that were once valuable may no longer be relevant. However, there are ways to succeed in re-entering the job market and I am sharing them here in this blog post and in my free guide book.
The well-being of the accompanying partner on traditional corporate assignments is not only in the interest of the partner and the family but also in the interest of the company sending the family abroad. Countless studies show that a struggling accompanying partner is causing a higher ratio of earlier returns or unsuccessful postings. In this blog post, I am covering the different aspects of company support. You will learn what kinds of support aspects you might be able to receive and motivates you to take your own adjustment abroad seriously.