Thandizo Kawerama

Imposter syndrome is when you downplay your achievements. You dim your own shine and shy away from opportunities you would otherwise benefit from. When you find yourself in a position you are qualified for, you get paranoid that your inadequacies will be exposed – so you shrink away from high performance. It’s basically shooting yourself in the foot.

Last week I watched the critically acclaimed, Oscar winning South Korean film Parasite. It was brilliant. Outside of being a great critique on our classicist society, the film served as reminder as to why we shouldn’t let imposter syndrome get the best of us.

The movie details how the dirt-poor Kim family finesses their way into employment. They create an elaborate scheme which includes faking their credentials and conning their way into the wealthy Park family’s lives.

The Kims are successful in their con act and as the title of the movie suggests, they become parasites living off of the Parks. While watching the movie I couldn’t help but admire the shameless attitude of the Kims. They were able to pull off their scheme because they never outwardly showed that they felt out of place and they had nothing to lose. I realized that if I had half the audacity that they had, I would be a millionaire by now.

What if we could all fake a bit of confidence to reach our desired goals?

For 12 long years we go to various schools. To some extent, all of us have the opportunity to receive some type of training that’s meant to prepare us for opportunities in the ‘real world’.

Unfortunately, imposter syndrome keeps a lot of people from reaching their full potential. The fear of being shown up as an imposter in our desired field despite being qualified, can be crippling. We don’t step up and claim our achievements. We don’t nominate ourselves for office or volunteer to lead the team. Especially for women, we have something inside of us that forces us to value being invisible in spite of our talents, skills and experience.

In a way, this is completely understandable, people have goals they want to achieve, but the attention that comes with achievement scares us off. If you perform well on this project you will be expected to perform at least as well on ALL projects. Look at that pressure! The glamour of what ‘could be’ blinds us, and we subconsciously decide that whoever is going to take our dream position or job must be some special unicorn. We disqualify ourselves before the referee even gets on the field.

The Parasite movie reminded me that sometimes you really do have to fake it till you make it. If you don’t, someone else will take your place. This will happen not because you can’t do the job but because you got cold feet. We need that initial boost of confidence to put ourselves forward, knowing we have what it takes to get the job done.

I think we can all take small steps to conquer imposter syndrome. Participating in activities that make us feel uncomfortable would be a good start. I am not saying that you should pretend that you are a concert pianist when you have never seen a piano. That is taking things too far. I am saying that if you have a proven talent or skill in something, stop stepping aside and letting opportunities pass you by.

Try new things; focus on the things that you like to do and are good at. Take a dance class, go out to meet new people or join a club for an activity that you can do. It might not feel natural at first, but it will help conquer your fears.

Conning people and lying like in Parasite is bad, but using a higher idea about your potential to drum up the courage to step up and do a great job is good. Get rid of the imposter syndrome inside of you. Pretend you are the diva of the day and step up onto the stage and under the spotlight; then do your thing.