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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: How the pandemic increased self doubt



Local Charlotte News — One psychologist says if you don’t experience some sort of self doubt, you could be on the borderline of narcissism. 2020 was a rough year for a lot of people. The pandemic, working from home, and not seeing loved ones.

“This last year has kind of been transformative for me,” says Devin Anderson, while sitting at a park in Uptown Charlottle. “In self-doubt, and solitude, and being on my own out here in Charlotte.”

That self doubt, and not feeling good enough is what psychologists call Imposter Syndrome. The persistent internal fear a person will be found out to be a fraud.

“I’ve been going through lots of anxiety and depression probably since I was 15 years old,” said Stephanie Perdomo as she walked her dog. “It’s very difficult to find yourself when nothing feels right.”

Anniedi Essien knows those feelings of self-doubt. It started in 2017, when she was laid off from her job right after moving to Charlotte from New York City.

“If you could imagine a person for me who had defined so much of my sense of accomplishment, my sense of achievement by my job title,” added Essien, now the owner and founder of Idem Spark. “I was working at a prestigious firm. I was a strategy consultant advising some of the largest corporations,”

Essien had to develop a strategy to work on herself, “My sense of identity was shaken, I had to figure out, who am I in the absence of a job title. It shakes up and unearths our sense of authenticity. Who we are, our mission, our identity and the unique value that we have to offer the world.”

“When we realize everyone feels this on some level it is liberating to feel that,” says William Sparks, an organizational psychologist and Thompson chair of Leadership Studies for the McColl School of Business at Queens University. “One of the issues people that suffer crippling imposter syndrome is they think they are the only ones in the world who feel this way.”

Sparks consults sports teams, and high-level executives in the Queen City. He feels Imposter Syndrome comes down to people living in fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of betrayal.

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The goal is to get people to realize there is the persona which the world sees, and the shadow as he calls it, which is the person behind closed doors.

“No one can keep up that facade forever and that’s exactly what it is,” added Sparks. “It’s a persona or facade. We all wear one to a certain degree, but the more extreme someone is and the greater the distance when they are behind closed doors, that will ultimately crash and burn. And the person will have to suffer those consequences.”

How do you balance the persona and shadow? William Sparks says that’s the million-dollar question, but he says the “actual self” lives between the persona and shadow. It also starts with having to courage to admit you have those self-doubts.

“Having the courage to declare that insecurity actually releases it from you,” said Sparks.

“I had to go back to my roots and figure out what was it that lit me up as a child,” added Essien.

Will Sparks says it also mean seeking out other people if you are looking for answers when dealing with imposter syndrome.

“You can ask them to give you a continue, start, stop,” says Sparks. “What should I continue to do, tell me something I should start doing that I am not doing, and tell me something I should stop doing.”

Both Sparks and Essien say it may also be time to get rid of those words Imposter Syndrome

“Rather than the risk of us feeling like imposters of who we think we’re meant to be, we risk not fully owning and embracing the fullest expressions of who we were born to be,” says Essien.

Anniedi Essien says embracing who she was meant to be helped her, and now she has her own business helping others.

She says for those dealing with self doubt should remember this, “I am here to remind you that you, that you are the most valuable player in the game of life,” added Essien. “And I see you and I was put on this planet to help you win.”

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