Four Ways I Dealt With Imposter Syndrome As A Female Entrepreneur In The UAE

According to one study, 75% of women in leadership positions have experienced imposter syndrome across their professional journeys, and if you're a woman of colour, that feeling is amplified.

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Ever felt like you weren't good enough, or you got that job simply because you got lucky?

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Me too.

Imposter syndrome or that feeling like you don't deserve your achievements, or that you are a fraud, is something a lot of us can relate to, and more so if you're a woman. It's something even Michelle Obama has experienced. According to one study, 75% of women in leadership positions have experienced imposter syndrome across their professional journeys, and if you're a woman of colour, that feeling is amplified.

Constantly doubting yourself, or not embracing your achievements, is a pattern that we need to break. Since I've become an entrepreneur, I've worked hard on ensuring I unlearn my internal biases, and work towards overcoming my imposter syndrome as I navigated entrepreneurship.

The feelings of self-doubt seemed to crop up whether I was getting on a simple phone call to explain what I was planning to do with my business, right before I fell asleep as I played out worst-case scenarios, and even during meetings. Once I recognized that this was holding me back, I looked at ways that I could work past this. Here are some tips based on my own experience as an entrepreneur:

1. Acknowledge the feelings Recognizing that you're going through these feelings, which are often shaped by external and internal factors, is the first step. Know that we are often our worst critics, so chances are that we are being unnecessarily tough on ourselves, and affecting our own self-esteem. Hindsight is 20/20; so, look at previous instances where you've doubted or second-guessed yourself and your capabilities. What is it about these situations that makes you feel that way? Do you see a pattern? Perhaps these come up before a presentation, or in social settings. Understanding what triggers these feelings will allow you to come up with constructive coping tools during these moments.

2. Write down your achievements We are so often focused on the negatives and everything working against us that we don't spend enough time recognizing and reflecting on our journey, and how far we have come. Write down everything you're proud of, including your milestones outside of your professional life. This can be anything from holding your own during a meeting, to telling a colleague you want to lead a presentation, showing up for a friend during a tough time, or even starting therapy. Every achievement, big or small, matters, and it helps you in your journey. Refer back to these accomplishments when you find yourself struggling, or when those feelings of imposter syndrome creep back into your life. It'll remind you that you're the same person who has been able to overcome challenges, and still reach where you are.

3. Let go of that perfectionist mindset In my personal experience, I had been so focused on ensuring everything was perfect that even the smallest mix-up would send me down a path of intense self-doubt and negativity. It would make me feel like I don't know what I'm doing, or I haven't done enough and that I'm not a good leader. Recognize that mistakes are a part of human nature, and that we learn as we stumble. We all make mistakes; we just need to learn from them. Just because something didn't go right the first time doesn't mean you're not worthy, or that you don't deserve the opportunities that are coming your way. Nothing will ever be perfect; so, we need to actively learn from roadblocks, and learn to let go.

4. Cultivate a support system Foster a network, whether that's at work or outside, which offers you a safe space. It's so important to have a support group that can help us through the tough moments, and remind us that there's more to us than our insecurities. It will help you realize you're not alone. We're all in this together. Having conversations around your fears, and normalizing speaking out about topics such as imposter syndrome, will help us overcome them. Your tribe will uplift you, help bring you out of self-doubt, and remind you of your worth, and encourage you to not let imposter syndrome hold you back.

Related: Destigmatizing Conversations Around Mental Health At Your Workplace: The How-To