Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

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Imposter syndrome is common on social media. It can happen to anyone at any stage in their life. And it can be debilitating. Is there a way to manage imposter syndrome and cure it for good? That’s what we wanted to find out in this week’s #TwitterSmarter chat. We invited social media expert, Doug Cohen, to talk it through. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Doug Cohen
Topic: Dealing with imposter syndrome
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is imposter syndrome?

You know the feeling—when you see someone who knows more than you, is smarter and is more successful, a little self-doubt creeps in. You feel like you’re not good enough. Gradually, you start to feel like an imposter. That’s imposter syndrome.

Q2: Who does imposter syndrome affect?

Funnily enough, as our guest pointed out, imposter syndrome doesn’t affect actual imposters. It’s those who’re genuine and trying to lead a decent life that gets most affected by imposter syndrome.

As Berrak emphasized, imposter syndrome can happen to anyone—even the most experienced people on Twitter may have a tinge of self-doubt. Some people are just better at handling it.

Q3: Why do people sometimes feel like an imposter?

We all have some form of anxiety in us. Imposter syndrome feeds off that anxiety and it can affect people in different ways. For example, people who’re high-achievers and who have big expectations for themselves may find it hard to deal with a small misstep—even a perceived one, as our guest explained.

Laura made an excellent point as well. So many of us fall into that trap of comparing ourselves with others. That only exacerbates the situation. We also have to remember that people often show only the good side on social media and not the less-glamorous side of life. We seldom see the full picture.

Q4: How does imposter syndrome affect your Twitter activities?

Imposter syndrome generally makes people second-guess themselves and their content on Twitter. That said, not everyone experiences imposter syndrome the same way. If you’re aware of what it can do to you and you’re on the defense right away, like our guest, you won’t let it impact your activities.

The problem with second-guessing yourself, as Madalyn pointed out is that you’ll tend not to engage as much as you used to on Twitter. This, in turn, may affect your reach on the platform. One of the best ways to deal with it is not to overthink it—just do it.

Q5: Does imposter syndrome manifest differently on Twitter compared to other platforms?

It’s not always clear how imposter syndrome varies in each platform. However, as our guest mentioned, Twitter can be particularly challenging. People tend to scrutinize your content more closely on Twitter, mainly because we’re used to a lot of bots and spammers, and trolls on Twitter.

As our friends from Biteable noted, it can also depend on what type of content you’re most comfortable sharing and which platform has the most of your audience. For instance, text-based platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can be challenging because people use those platforms for communication, news, and debates. Therefore your content will also get more critique than usual. In contrast, Instagram and Facebook are more image-focussed and they might be more comfortable.

Q6: Does pretending to be confident help avoid imposter syndrome?

It can help deal with it. For instance, reassuring yourself with positive thoughts and words can help boost your self-confidence, like Christine suggested.

That said, though, there’s also a clear line. You can’t say that you’re capable of something you aren’t. Confidence is ok—blatant lying isn’t.

Q7: How can you use Twitter to overcome imposter syndrome?

Twitter is a good place to build relationships with people. Use Twitter’s extensive community-oriented features like Lists, Spaces, and chats to contribute to conversations and become a valuable part of communities. Show up consistently and build up your network. When you surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are, you’re less likely to doubt yourself. A supportive community will have your back—they don’t judge you, and you can be more transparent about what you don’t know.

Q8: Can you ever completely cure imposter syndrome?

There is no magic cure for imposter syndrome. A little bit of nervous doubt can be a good thing—it means you care about what you’re sharing and that you’re keen to add value to the community. It only becomes a problem if it starts to take over your life and limits your ability to be social.

Just remember that we’re all still learning. If people come to you for help, it’s because they think you can help them. If you can, do. And if you’re not sure, be upfront about it. No one’s perfect at everything they do.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks a lot for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Doug, have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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