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Prevailing over imposter syndrome as a young entrepreneur

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Imposter syndrome, characterized by a lack of belief in one’s ability or right to perform tasks related to their current position in society, is something that most people with empathy will experience at one time or another, especially if they’re responsible for starting a business at a relatively young age. Entrepreneur contributor Candice Georgiadis did exactly that, and knows all too well the corrosive qualities of imposter syndrome–and what you can do to beat it.

Starting her “entrepreneurial journey” at a mere 20 years old, Georgiadis says she has experienced feeling “outclassed or underprepared” when interacting with older, more tenured participants in her field. However, she also notes that “embracing these moments can help foster growth within oneself.”

“Don’t let mere self-doubts hinder personal triumphs,” she adds.

Georgiadis’ can-do attitude, coupled with hard-won knowledge of how beating imposter syndrome can increase one’s upward mobility, has resulted in both a successful career and actionable advice for anyone looking for the same.

Primarily, Georgiadis recommends a holistic approach to recognizing imposter syndrome, focusing on three prongs: identifying the symptoms, observing where imposter syndrome inhibits perception of successes, and finding a way to reframe failures.

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“One of the reasons why imposter syndrome thrives is because we tend to downplay or dismiss our accomplishments. We think they are not enough, that we got lucky, or that anyone could have done them,” she writes, quickly adding, “But that’s not true.”

“Another reason imposter syndrome persists is that we tend to magnify or dwell on our failures. We think they are proof that we are not good enough, that we don’t belong, or that we are doomed to fail again. But that’s not true either,” she says.

Georgiadis hits on a crucial element of human nature in the atmosphere of imposter syndrome here. If you’re experiencing this problem, you view yourself as underqualified and “lucky” rather than adequately qualified and talented; this means that you will doubt your ability to succeed, chalk up your successes to some form of serendipity, and take your failures as evidence that you aren’t good enough for the job.

But in reality, you’re probably exactly where you should be, your successes deserve to be celebrated, and your failures are nothing more than learning opportunities that everyone before you has experienced themselves. 

In fact, tallying up your successes over the months or years can be a powerful motivator on your worst days. You probably have a lot more than you think. 

Georgiadis also recommends a few outlier approaches, chief among which is the realization that you are not an imposter just because you don’t do things the way everyone else does. “We think we have to be like someone else, fit into a certain mold or follow a certain path to be successful,” she writes. “You have your own voice, your own style, your own vision. Embrace your uniqueness, and let it shine through your work.”

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She similarly says that having a support network and routinely asking for feedback from those around her can help keep her grounded and able to see herself objectively rather than being stuck in the imposter mindset. “Imposter syndrome thrives in secrecy and silence. It shrinks in the light of honesty and connection. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others who understand what you’re going through and who can offer you constructive feedback and support,” she writes.

Imposter syndrome isn’t new, and it probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; it seems like a basic component of human psychology at this point. But if you learn to recognize it and address it as such rather than succumbing to its harsh judgment, you’ll be a much happier–and arguably more successful–version of yourself. 

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