In just a few weeks, I will have completed 8 years at Google, and I must admit that it has been an incredible journey. I never thought I would stay this long, but there’s something about Google that makes it so special, and my experience here has been nothing short of life-changing.
However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Like so many others, I battled with impostor syndrome for what felt like an eternity, and it nearly broke me. For me, it persisted for over five years, and while it did not detract from my journey or experience, it was mentally draining. I was so busy ticking boxes that I believed the outside world expected of me that I did not take the time to look within.
In retrospect, I realize that I did not make it easy for myself either. I subjected myself willingly to so much change, which kept me from feeling like I belonged. It was that sense of belonging that could have silenced the impostor syndrome.
However, today, I feel that sense of belonging, and I have developed strategies to overcome impostor syndrome. While it still visits me occasionally, I have learned to push it aside by amplifying my inner mentor and silencing my inner critic. This was not easy, and it required many pivots, from feeling to believing, from wondering to asserting, and from following my gut to leading with my instinct.
My secret to overcoming impostor syndrome was developing extreme competence, especially in domains that I was passionate about. It was the confidence that came from knowing that I knew what I was talking about that silenced the inner critic. Competence is a personal value for me. So I anchored on it, to lead me through this phase.
Alongside competence, I also developed vulnerability. Accepting when I was wrong, and reflecting on it, allowed me to learn and build more competence over time. Rather than letting my wrongs become an intimidating force, I made them a source of inspiration.
I’ve had many women at Google ask me what my secret to overcoming impostor syndrome was, and I’ve shared it as honestly as I can. Anchor in your personal values, and use that strength to fight your inner critic.