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Today we are talking about ADHD and imposter syndrome.

ADHDers are very prone to feeling like imposters for many reasons, but in my experience, it’s because our lives often feel chaotic, and we are afraid that people will see how messy and unorganized we are.

Imposter syndrome holds us back from living up to our true potential, so here are several things to note about imposter syndrome so it doesn’t get in your way!

What is Imposter Syndrome?

First off, imposter syndrome is an internal experience in which we believe that we are not as competent as others perceive us to be. We feel fake and phony, and it leads to intense feelings of self-doubt.

As ADHDers, self-doubt has taught us to hide our weaknesses from our bosses, colleagues, friends, and families, because we are terrified that if they only knew how chaotic we actually are, they will stop supporting us. We see our executive dysfunction as a moral failing, and being “messy” or “unorganized” as grounds for termination by other people.

And even when people do accept us, we still tell ourselves that “it’s just because they don’t know the real me.” We hold ourselves back in our careers and relationships because of our deep fears of being rejected because of our ADHD.

And this is what I like to call “letting imposter syndrome take the wheel.” When we let these intense feelings of self-doubt control us, we stop ourselves from living up to our true potential in our lives.

So here are 2 major realizations we need to make to stop letting imposter syndrome get in our way:

#1: You don’t have to be perfect to be successful!

Take a moment to digest that.

You don’t have to be perfect in all areas of your life in order to be successful. You can be imperfect and STILL be an expert in your field, a kind and loving parent, and a great, trustworthy friend…

When you go out to find the best doctor, dentist, or financial advisor to help you with your needs, do you ever care about how messy their car is? Or whether they were late for work?

No! You don’t care. The only thing you care about is if they can help you. And that is exactly how people feel about you too.

You are allowed to procrastinate for hours, be messy, and live in your version of chaos because people only care about whether or not you can help them. If you can get your work done and help people out, it doesn’t matter how you got there.

So give yourself permission to be imperfect, because nobody cares about perfection!

#2: Imposter syndrome is normal. You are normal!

As ADHDers, we are not alone. We might experience imposter syndrome more frequently and intensely, but every human being struggles with self-doubt because that is the nature of trying new things and coming out of our comfort zones.

No one can take risks without experiencing self-doubt, so I want you to know that you’re not alone and the way you feel is very normal.

When we go outside our comfort zones, our brains try to keep us safe, and that manifests into feelings of self-doubt. The problem is that our brains don’t really know the difference between applying for a new job opportunity or jumping across a ravine. It’s all the same.

In both cases, there is potential for success and failure. The difference is jumping across a ravine could result in death, but applying for a job won’t. Either way, we feel the same about it.

So the best way to manage these feelings is to recognize that imposter syndrome is normal, try to make friends with the feelings of self-doubt, and then decide to release your fears when you’re not in any real danger.

The first step to moving through imposter syndrome is to check in with yourself and look at your situation as rationally as you can. Most likely, you’ll find that your fears aren’t real, and your self-doubt is just something that exists, and whatever it is you’re afraid of just makes you human. 

So ask yourself these questions next time you’re feeling self-doubt:

  • Are you actually an imposter or are you just human?
  • Are you an imposter or do you have perfectionistic standards for yourself?
  • Do your perceived flaws actually disqualify you from being an expert in your field?

To summarize, ADHD and imposter syndrome is normal and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. When you’re feeling like an imposter, remember that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful, and you can always check in with yourself to see if your fears are real or if they are just holding you back!

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