It’s back. That creeping, insidious feeling that you’re out of your league. That nasty, destructive voice telling you you’re not good enough. That you’re only here because you got lucky. That you’re an idiot and sooner or later, everyone will find out you’re an idiot.

You know this is a thing. You know about the studies. You know about all those other workers who feel the exact same way you do right now. You get it! Imposter Syndrome is real, and it’s ruthless. But you’re thinking:

“Well, maybe this isn’t Imposter Syndrome. Maybe I just actually suck.”

Here’s the thing, though. For the sake of doing your job and exuding confidence, it doesn’t matter that you think you suck. You might not think you’re good enough, but someone else obviously does. Your employer or client or whoever has put you in this place in which you feel you don’t belong believes that you’re not just good enough, you’re perfect for the job. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to believe that right now. For work’s sake, all that matters is someone else does. But also? You should know that yes, you ARE good enough. Confidence is important, but for self-esteem’s sake, you deserve to feel worthy.  

There’s a silver lining here, too. The mere fact that you’re experiencing this means you’re doing something right. Imagine if you always felt completely confident that you’re constantly kicking ass. Chances are, you wouldn’t be growing, doing anything outside of your comfort zone, or pushing yourself at all. Do you want to feel like an ass-kicker doing the same old stuff or do you want to feel a little uncertain while you explore your potential? (Hint: pick the second one.)

Oh, and don’t worry. Soon enough, you’ll feel totally confident, anyway. Yep, there will come a time where you no longer feel like an imposter in this role. In the meantime, take your lack of confidence as a sign that you’re successfully pushing your own boundaries. And that’s what awesome, adventurous people do.

Stop looking for evidence to support your imposter theory. You’re looking back at things you’ve done in the past and cringing, aren’t you?

“See, that terrible short film I made in college proves how much I suck,” you might be saying. Or maybe it’s a mistake you made at work. Or maybe it’s [insert other thing that makes you feel like an idiot here]. You feel like those mistakes define you: it’s impossible that I can be a success because I’ve failed. So obviously, I’m a failure. I have to tell you, though, a few fails don’t make you a failure. Remember DiGiorno’s incredibly dumb tweet? Boy, did they mess up–badly. But three years later, they’re the topped ranked pizza brand, with just over $1 billion in sales.

Okay, maybe it’s not a great idea to compare yourself to pizza. Maybe it’s better to take advice from Maya Angelou, who said:

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ ” – Maya Angelou

Yep, that’s definitely a better example than pizza. The point is, everyone feels the way you do right now. And failing a few times doesn’t mean you’re a failure. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’re an imposter. You’ve worked hard, and you know what you’re doing. We’re human, and we all doubt ourselves from time to time, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel out of your league sometimes. The important thing is not to allow that self-doubt to get in the way of exploring the massive depths of your potential.

Finally, if all else fails, and that little voice won’t shut up, and it starts to drown out your own beautiful voice, here’s a comeback:

Fine, maybe I am an imposter. But I’m going to try to kick ass anyway.

Let action take over. Soon enough, you’ll realize you’re the real deal, you can handle this, and, most importantly, you do belong. 

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Kristin writes about money, travel, and human behavior at Lifehacker, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and Mentalfloss. She's also written for NBC News, Fox Digital, and Scripps Network Interactive. Learn more about her here.

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