Impostor syndrome. A phenomenon whereby you start to believe that you are inadequate despite your success being obvious to everyone. The truth is I have always experienced impostor syndrome, even before I became aware of this concept. I have experienced this at school, I have experienced this at university and I have experienced this in job interviews. Even now after attempting to tackle this Achilles heel of mine, I still interrogate myself. I question myself about my current position as a student economist for the civil service. Is this down to luck? Do I deserve this? How have I (the son of a postman and a cleaner) got to a role in which I’m helping to shape government decisions? I then compel myself to remember all of the obstacles I have overcome, to remember that I am here because I deserve to be here. More importantly to remember that I am here because Allah (SWT) has written this for me. It is estimated that 70% of people suffer from impostor syndrome. So, if you are a part of this proportion grab a freshly grounded cup of coffee (no pun intended) and be sure to read how I have waged a war on my impostor syndrome.


Accept that it will take time to overcome

Everyone knows that Rome wasn’t built in a day, yet most people expect immediate results. This may be because of the microwave society that we currently live in. To an extent, we have become entitled to instant self-gratification. We believe that everything in our lives should happen instantaneously. You must develop your ability to undergo hard work and wait for the results to become apparent. This is with any target in life; be it losing weight, learning a new language or conquering an addiction. A question that commonly arises is ‘How long will this take?’ The truth is it could take 3 months, it could take 6 months, it could even take a year. This will take time and you must stay patient during this process. Some days you will feel like you have regressed but in any process of life, there will be ups and downs. I promise you conquering this hurdle will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Talk about it

Ignore the taboo and talk about it. Just tell someone. Don’t worry about what they will say. The likelihood is they will have experienced something similar within their life. When I first started at my current role, I was surprised to find that most of the other interns were feeling the same impostor syndrome I was feeling. I only found this out 5 months in, when one of the interns (this wasn’t me) mentioned how he was feeling. When we all conversed about our feelings, we discovered that this was completely normal. This is a natural feeling for any young adult taking strides in their professional lives.

Distance yourself from negative people

Surrounding yourself with people who have a positive outlook in your life may be easy but distancing yourselves from negative people can be difficult. Especially if these negative people are your family members. When someone tells me that I can’t do something; this usually ignites a fire within my stomach, a fire to prove them wrong and a fire to show them that I can do anything that I set my mind to. Nonetheless, I know everyone is different. Some people do get discouraged when faced with negativity, I did when I was younger. Thus, if you do experience this the best thing to do is to distance yourself from the negativity that they bring to your life. Try to avoid any conversations which may cause them to spout negative energy. If that means you leave the room, so be it.

Believe in your abilities

‘Whether you believe you can or whether you believe you can’t you’re right.’ Henry Ford.

Whatever situation that you’re in you are there because you deserve to be there and you belong to be there. So do not let that little voice in your head tell you that you are here because you ‘got lucky’, I cannot stress this highly enough. At the end of the day, you are here because you deserve to be here. You need to think back to all of your past experiences, all of the challenges that you have overcome and dealt with. These experiences have primed you to take on the next chapter of challenges that you are now facing. Thus, if you feel that you do not belong, it is most likely an irrational thought and something that you must expel from your mind. When that voice pops into your head you need to engage in positive affirmations. You need to repeat to yourself that you belong here, that you are good enough and that you will prove that you are good enough.

Believe in the Qadr of Allah (SWT)

If you can’t believe that you are here because of your abilities, you need to remember that you are here through the Qadr of Allah (SWT). You are here because Allah (SWT) has written for you to be here. Sometimes I become so engrossed in the world and I forget; that whatever has happened in the past, whatever is happening now and whatever will happen in the future has all been decided and written by Allah (SWT). If you weren’t meant to be here, Allah (SWT) wouldn’t have allowed it to happen. You are in this university/job/challenge because Allah (SWT) has destined this for you. As a result, relax and remember that Allah (SWT) is in control and that he is the best of planners.

I hope this has benefited you.

Jazakallah Khayran

Adnaan Ali