Working with Imposter Syndrome

You know that phenomenon where you take note of something and then you start seeing it everywhere? Like when you buy a new car and then suddenly you start seeing that same car around town? I have been having that experience with the term “Imposter Syndrome”. It feels like everyone is talking about it! Since the topic keeps coming up, I decided it was time to take a deeper look into what Imposter Syndrome is, what it looks like, and how to work with it. My goal in writing this post is to offer validation and support to those of you battling Imposter Syndrome and to help you realize that you are not alone.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

My family has a board game called “The Chameleon”. At the start of the game, each player is given a card that tells them what the secret word is among a set of words in a related genre. However, one of the cards is a fake. Instead of telling the player what the secret word is, the card tells them that they are the “chameleon”. The players then go around in a circle and give a one-word clue about the secret word. When it’s the chameleon’s turn, they have to pretend they know the secret word and give a clue that blends in well with the other players’ clues. After everyone gives their clue, they all guess who the chameleon is. If the chameleon is caught, it’s game over!

So what does “The Chameleon” have to do with Imposter Syndrome? Imposter Syndrome is defined as “a psychological condition that is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Like the chameleon in our game, a person experiencing Imposter Syndrome can often feel like they don’t really know what they’re doing, that they don’t deserve to be where they’re at, that their success so far has just been coincidental, and that it won’t be long before someone finds out they’re a fraud.

What does Imposter Syndrome look like?

I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Computer Science, developed many custom apps in the ServiceNow platform, and have had great working relationships with my coworkers and clients, yet I still face Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis. Going back to our definition, Imposter Syndrome manifests itself as “persistent doubt” and “fear of being exposed as a fraud”. In my case, it’s the fear that a client will realize that I don’t know as much as they think I should and then refuse to work with me. I’m afraid my performance will reflect poorly on the company I work for. I’m afraid my employers will be disappointed in me and my work. I’m afraid that I won’t be a worthwhile investment for my company or my clients. It feels silly when I put my fears into words, yet they’re real fears!

Knowing that I’m not alone in this fight, I reached out to a wonderful group of women in the ServiceNow community and asked about their experiences with Imposter Syndrome. One woman mentioned being inspired by others and applauding their courage to learn a new skill, but twisting her own attempts to learn a new skill as a lack of knowledge, an inadequacy, and a failing. Another woman expressed that nothing she does feels like it is good enough, that there is always more she should be doing. She feels that her productivity is tied to her worth. Other signs of Imposter Syndrome that were shared include extreme perfectionism, constant comparisons, and feeling guilty for never doing “enough”.

In addition to the WomenNow community, I also reached out to the Yansa team and asked about their experiences. One team member had worked at ServiceNow prior to Yansa and was considered the integration expert. With that title came Imposter Syndrome. He felt like a fraud teaching labs and answering questions that he sometimes had just recently studied himself. Another team member talked about his journey of becoming a developer on the ServiceNow platform. He mentioned that despite the time and effort he had put into learning how to develop on the platform, he never felt qualified for the positions he was given as he moved up the ladder.

Even though the examples I shared here are geared towards Imposter Syndrome in our career journeys, it’s important to note that Imposter Syndrome can be experienced in all aspects of life. It’s also not unique to one industry, job title, age group, gender, or race. These are just a handful of the stories and experiences I’ve heard since starting this article, but there are many more out there.

How can we work with Imposter Syndrome?

Please note that I used the word “with”. Despite its negative connotation, Imposter Syndrome can be a positive thing! We don’t want to get rid of it entirely because it’s a sign of growth. If you are stretching yourself in growth areas, you will likely find yourself facing some form of Imposter Syndrome. As long as you’re moving forward, Imposter Syndrome is a great indicator that you’re about to cross some new threshold. Use it as a tool to evaluate if it’s time to push the bounds of your comfort zone.

Now please keep in mind that Imposter Syndrome can be felt to varying degrees. There are definitely situations in which the degree of stress and fear caused by Imposter Syndrome is unhealthy. In those cases, ask for help! Talk to a therapist, reach out to a community you belong to, ask your friends for a reminder of how awesome you are. Hearing the experiences of family, friends, coworkers, and the ServiceNow community helped me realize that this is not a battle we have to fight alone. Several of the individuals I talked to mentioned the importance of community and having people around you who will support you and allow room for growth.

It is also important that you take the time to address your physical and mental health needs. Imposter Syndrome (and every other physical or mental battle) will hit a lot harder if you are not taking care of your needs. Start by developing some healthy habits. For example, during Knowledge23, Dame Jacinda Ardern (one of the keynote speakers) talked about the importance of sleep. She emphasized that getting more sleep at night is not selfish, it allows you to perform at a higher level for the sake of those around you. She received a standing ovation for that! I recognize that not everyone has the time to make drastic changes to their routines for the sake of self-care. That’s okay! Start small and quit comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their battles, most of which can’t be seen. It’s counterproductive to compare your weaknesses with someone else’s strengths. Give yourself a little grace as you learn what works for you.

I have loved working at Yansa because of the growth culture that’s encouraged there, as well as the work-life balance. It has become a safe place for me to ask questions, learn new skills, make mistakes, and become a better version of myself. Even though I face Imposter Syndrome regularly, it has helped me to know that I’m surrounded by individuals who will support and encourage me. If you are able to do so, seek out an environment that supports a growth mindset and gives you space to learn and develop skills.

As you progress, record your achievements. Look back on those achievements as a reminder of what you have been able to accomplish, despite the challenges you have encountered along the way.


Ironically, I’ve felt Imposter Syndrome as I’ve written this article about Imposter Syndrome. I’m no psychologist. Why would I, of all people, be qualified to share my thoughts on this subject? All I can say is that in my own experiences with Imposter Syndrome, I have been encouraged and supported by incredible people around me. I wanted this article to open that door for you as well. There are people out there who have been through it or are going through it currently. The more we vocalize that, the more we will be able to help each other see the silver lining. As we work together, pushing the bounds of our comfort zones, we can accomplish some incredible things!