You’re sick.

The guy sitting next to you on the bus is sick.

Your younger siblings are definitely sick.

Your entire hometown, your grandmother’s neighbour, your child’s pen pal in Germany – they’re all sick.

From the Mongolian Horsemen to the pastry chef in the small French village – not one of us has escaped being tainted with the strain.

Don’t Despair!

“Apart from serial narcissists, super low achievers and outright crazies no-one is immune to the self-doubt that feeds the Impostor Syndrome.” Well, thank goodness that Forbes’ Contributor, Margie Warrell, had the decency to remind us that we’re all in this together!  (You were starting to sweat, weren’t you?)

Even though the majority of humanity is born with this affliction, there are many tricks to managing it so that you can continue to live a fulfilling life.   As a part of my own recovery journey, I opened up to Women Offshore about my own ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ shortcomings in my Featured Women post.

Knowing the triggers that will exacerbate your handicap, as well as learning coping mechanisms, will alleviate the burden of being judged by the rest of the world when your impairment rears its ugly head.


  1. Politics.  Unless you have a subscription to The Economist or The Weekly Standard, it is advisable to keep your comments to a minimum.  Engaging in political conversation is swiftest trap to pulling your encumbrance out into the open for a typically, moderately large audience to gawk at.
  2. New Employment. “Congratulations on your new job!  Here’s your new, extensive list of tasks that you only have a portion of the skill set for.  We’re looking to you to turn this around, so don’t disappoint us.”  Talk about a pressure cooker situation – a situation that we have ALL encountered at some point in our careers, and will certainly see again a few more times before retirement.
  3. Estrogen vs. Testosterone. Whether it’s the stigma attached to women working in ‘a man’s world’ or the overcompensation women exhibit when feeling the need to ‘prove’ they are competent enough to be there in the first place – never mind having to prove their job competency.  Allow yourself to fail, learn and demonstrate resiliency.  That’s where trust and respect are earned.

Coping Mechanisms

  1. Public Speaking. Elyse Knudsen, one of our Women Offshore Contributors who has firsthand experience with the initial face-planting and subsequent conquering of, the typically, terrifying arena of public speaking.  This is a task that will exorcise that syndrome right out of your body, because there is absolutely NO way to use it as a shield to hide behind in that type of setting. 
  2. Maybe you need to take a few baby steps before you throw yourself off of the proverbial, public-speaking cliff.  Be a mentor.  Your mentee gives you instant gratification as you see them excel.  Bonus about that is, you feel like a champ for having used your coaching skills to get them there!  The fail-safe to keep you honest from not slipping back into your old ways with that familiar shield of yours, is that mentees ask a lot of questions.  Meaning, if you cheat truthfulness by reverting back to your old phony ways of not being able to say “I don’t know, but I will get you the answer…” and instead, ‘BS’ing an answer, they will call you out on it!
    (And won’t you just be flying your colourful fraudulent flag all over the place then?!)
  3. Ask Questions. Take a page from your mentee’s book!  (In fact, take the whole bloody book.)  From a safety standpoint alone, it is essential to not act like you know what you are doing, but that you have a competent handle on the task at hand.  ASK THE QUESTIONS!  Following that, lean on the team for help.  You may very well be competent enough to handle the job on your own, but having a different set of eyes on the task, it becomes a learning experience to complete the job better on the next round.
  4. Your ‘Bad-Ass’ Hat isn’t meant to be worn all of the time. Just like a hat that gets worn to church once a week, it’s only for special occasions!  My hat’s name is, “How Hard Can It Be?”  Unfortunately, it does get worn much more often than I would like to admit – old habits die hard.  Which is o.k. – I’m a work in progress.

Your Treatment is Working!

Margie makes a great, final point about this widespread psychological baggage syndrome – giving your best feels nowhere near, as intoxicatingly satisfying, as being the best.  Yet to be the best, one has to feel failure after having performed the task to the best of their ability, only to have had their efforts miss the mark – forcing that individual to push back with the strength to get back up and forbid that defeatist attitude to settle in.  Allowing self-doubt to dictate self-worth will always end in a negative outcome of inadequacy and reluctance to set the bar any higher than the bare minimum of mediocracy.

So when your spark threatens to go out, and you feel your ‘little impediment’ taking over – let it.  But you’d best be sure to pick yourself right back up again, and rise as the whole damned fire.

Huh… looks like Ms. Colette Werden just gave me my new mantra.

Photo from the Writer Source 






Women Offshore

About The Author: Women Offshore

The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: [email protected].

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