Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

with Alicia Liu

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Impostor Syndrome has a strong cumulative effect for girls growing up.

Alicia Liu

Software Engineer, Entrepreneur, Writer

Lessons Learned

If you put in the work, you get the success, which breeds confidence.

Media has a huge impact upon the possibility that girls and young women see for their future selves.


Lesson: Overcoming Impostor Syndrome with Alicia Liu

Step #10 Girls: Impostor Syndrome has a strong cumulative effect for girls growing up

So I think for me personally Impostor Syndrome has made me shy away from certain things that I should have worked more towards. But in other ways it has helped me do more than I normally would. So I wasn't happy with where I was so it made me work harder and constantly have to improve. But that does get tiring too. At some point you have to be like "This is where I'm at. I'm going to be okay with this."

Well I think after I recognized Impostor Syndrome and finally said "Okay yes, I think I can identify with this," then I took some concrete steps to actually overcome that. For example I completely dove back into coding and said, "This is what I'm going to do. I’m going to get good at this," instead of being like coding is just something I do on the side. So actually identifying with the thing I was afraid of and working towards it and realizing that if you do put in the work, you do get the success. That’s a big part of it too and confidence really comes from that.

I think there is a cumulative effect that is actually very strong. So if, at the very, very beginning when you are just a little kid and you have some sense that you are not meant to be as good at something like math, for example, or physics, as someone else, that can really build on itself because that will completely limit the type of career you're going to have. Then you really build that in to your view of yourself to the extent where it's no longer possible for you to see that it's actually something external to you, like impostor syndrome, or that's just who you are. By that point it's probably too late without a lot of work.

I really hate seeing that. I've mentored high school girls and middle school girls to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM, science, technology, engineering and math, and a lot of them just are completely closed to the idea of being an engineer. Some who even have dads who are engineers. That was really surprising to me because my dad was a software engineer and that is probably one of the biggest reasons why I thought that was something I could do.

But it really breaks my heart when I see girls who are completely closed to the idea for really no discernible reason other than they've just convinced themselves that it's not something that they would ever be able to do. Of course, the fault is not on them. We don't see women represented in that way in media. That has a huge impact, too.

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