Imposter Syndrome is a collection of feelings of self-doubt or of inadequacy. People generally think that they are a fraud among colleagues and are constantly worried about being “exposed” to not know what they’re supposed to know. It’s the feeling that you are drastically underqualified when in fact you are qualified.

If you’re reading this article, I’d like to bet that you’ve felt it once or twice in your life. As a woman in engineering and in politics, I have definitely doubted myself in times when I shouldn’t have. Alongside supportive friends and family, I’ve developed skills to combat these intrusive thoughts and I want to share them here.

Confront the thoughts head on

“Why am I thinking this? What influences this line of thinking? What part of my training does this issue specifically deal with?” By addressing the root of the issue and pairing the source of doubt with your experiences, you can dispel these thoughts and push them to the back of your head. Even quieting the voice is a huge first step. 

Highlight the positive

When negative thoughts creep in, turn them on their head and come back with something positive you’ve done. Achieved one of your goals? Went out of your way to help a friend? Compliment yourself and recognize the good things you’ve done.

Create affirmations

As silly as they may sometimes sound, affirmations help once you commit to repeating them. Create a couple of statements that mean something to you personally and help motivate you. One of my favorites starting out was taken directly from The Help: “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”. 

Lean on your friends

I really do not know where I would be in politics without my friends. Odds are, they have felt the same way you do and can help boost your confidence. I can’t tell you how many times I have turned to my girlfriends when I was doubting myself. If you are struggling in your major, lean on your classmates — teamwork makes the dream work.

Reward yourself

Powered through a presentation you were nervous about? Spoke up in a meeting with an idea? Buy a treat for yourself on your way home. Buy that purse you’ve had your eye on. You overcame a mental barricade and came out better for having spoken up. This positive reinforcement will help cement it into your mind.

The key to dealing with these thoughts is to put them in perspective. This is a time when affirmations play a huge role. Telling yourself that you have worked hard to get where you are and that you are as smart as everyone else can put those thoughts to rest. And, as always, verbalizing these thoughts to others can help give you the support you need. I have friends both outside and in my major that I can talk to, and oftentimes, you are not alone. Now put on your power outfit and conquer whatever life throws at you.

Jillian K