How Ritu Confronted Her Imposter Syndrome & Started Believing in Herself Again

9 minutes

Dealing with imposter syndrome

“One day she discovered that she was strong and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”

One strong impact that our thoughts can have on our mind is to let us doubt our own capabilities. This is precisely what Ritu (Name Changed), 32, had experienced right from her school days.

“I’ve been a high performing student throughout my life but somewhere between school and college, I started doubting my own capabilities. I wasn’t sure what I was doing.”

What bothered Ritu, a PhD Scholar at the country’s topmost IIT, even more, was her hesitation to express her opinion among people.

When there would be a good number four to five people around me who were either my equivalent or brighter than me, I’d tend to become quieter.

During her school days when Ritu was just in 7th standard, her unwillingness to stand out was so strong that she believed in making a calculated effort that was just enough to get her what she apparently wanted.

“I remember how I used to tell my mother that I don’t want to study more because if I do, I knew that I’d secure a top position and for that, I’d have to go and collect my prize and that’s something I can’t do.”

As a result of this hesitation, Ritu used to study just enough to secure 4th or 5th rank but not the top position. Little did she know that this was only going to pull her confidence further down.

I’d feel that I wasn’t good enough. I’d become over-protective of my relationship with close friends thinking that I might make them go away due to my insufficiencies. This would make me cling to them even more and in turn annoy them.” 

There was this constant voice inside Ritu that told her that she’s always right and that people around her must stand up to her expectations, causing disagreement and irritation. But what further disappointed her was her coming back to a calmer state and realising that everyone has their own point of view.

This constant tug of war between her emotions would at times put Ritu in a confused state that she didn’t like and decided to connect with a YourDOST expert.

“After years of my push-pull relationship with self-doubt and overthinking, in 2019, I connected with my first YourDOST counselor, Ms. Anagha Madhusudhan. She helped me with the very first thing I apparently needed the most – focussing on myself. Additionally, she also suggested small exercises like journaling, saying positive things to myself, etc. so that I can start focusing on myself again.”

I was under tremendous academic pressure. My thesis work wasn’t moving as I expected

While Ritu started inculcating her Expert’s suggestions into her life, she also had to travel a lot for her PhD case studies and couldn’t continue her sessions regularly. Fast forward to 2020, the nationwide lockdown came into effect and so did Ritu’s irritation while working from home.

During the lockdown, I switched jobs and while working remotely, my frequency of getting irritated at people around me gradually hiked.

The confined environment and work pressure made Ritu act at the behest of her irritation.

“My sister-in-law and I would mostly work together at home and unintentionally, I’d end up getting irritated with her for small things. Even to a response from her, that was as simple as Hey, you’ve done this wrong, I used to get extremely annoyed and say things like I don’t want to live with you.”

None of us like venting out on our loved ones. But at times, our situations can put us in a tough spot. This guilt affected Ritu too and the day she ended up letting her irritation out on her niece and nephew, she knew that she had to fix this part of hers.

“I used to feel guilty and get angry at myself because of what I’m doing to my family. My niece and nephew especially were very young. They couldn’t even understand what I was going through. This was the breaking point which made me realise that I need to seek help.”

At this point, Ritu decided to connect with an Expert again and this time, it was Psychologist, Ms. Bhagya Yalkar who turned out to be just the right fit for her. With her help, Ritu came to an understanding that she might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome, something that she had been affected by for a long time.

As Imposter Syndrome can make one doubt their skills, talents or accomplishments and cause a persistent fear of being perceived as an ‘incapable’ individual, Ritu was now able to connect all the dots.

I’m a very curious person, always scrolling through information to know more. After my sessions, my husband did our parts of research and realised that yes, this could be the issue with me.

Ritu’s tendency to lose focus from herself due to all the overthinking about her own capabilities finally had meaning. With her counselor’s guidance, she was able to rationalise her negative thoughts.

“Throughout my sessions, Bhagya ma’am used to patiently listen to every little detail of what was happening and then ask me to incorporate small exercises and refer to certain articles to help me understand myself better.”

Seen a positive improvement. I don’t really obsess over negative thoughts as compared to earlier. This is a good thing for me. I've become more patient not just with myself but even with people around me

One exercise that Ritu really liked was one of self-appreciation wherein she had to write and categorise 40 achievements of hers.

“I listed my achievements down, one by one, which felt good. It was as simple as writing something good about myself or moments where I helped someone or even bigger ones like when I won a gold medal in my Bachelor’s for scoring the highest marks and a scholarship to Europe which I was awarded in my Master’s. These are very dear to me.”

As Ritu went on writing such good things about herself and categorising them based on whether they were related to academics, relationships or good habits, she could feel her inner spark reignite.

“The main purpose of this exercise was to remind me that I’m capable. I just forget it sometimes.”

For Ritu, talking to Bhagya was like talking to a friend. She could define her issues and comprehend the fact that Imposter Syndrome happens to a lot of people, especially people who are achieving a lot as they, at some point, start believing that the outcomes aren’t because of their efforts but mere luck.

“I’ve seen a positive improvement. I don’t really obsess over negative thoughts as compared to earlier. This is a good thing for me. I’ve become more patient not just with myself but even with people around me – my husband and the younger ones too.”

The new patience that Ritu proudly wears now has helped her rediscover the very meaning of relationship building –

If someone is behaving in a good way with me, I should too. I’m in a much better place now. I’m thankful to Bhagya ma’am for that.

With the help of counseling, she was able to overcome her challenges

For people who feel stuck and let things get worse, Ritu strongly recommends them to come out and seek support – 

“Don’t stay in the dark, at least find out what’s wrong. Think of your expert as your friend and try just once. It’s your wish whether you want to continue or not but at least try to understand what’s going on with you. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about yourself.”

As someone who truly values comfort and connection, Ritu says that she found both at YourDOST –

“I am really grateful to be in IIT as it is only in this way that I could come across YourDOST and my counselor. While speaking about your issues, it’s important that you’re in a comfortable place and the fact that you can talk to experts online, right from the comfort of your home gives you a sense of control over the situation. I’m glad about it.” 

Are you someone who has gone through a difficult phase and emerged stronger and better, with some professional help? Share your story with us to encourage thousands of others who might be struggling. Click here to submit your story.

Ritu’s Warrior Tips:
1. Don’t stay in the dark, at least find out what’s wrong. Think of your expert as your friend and try just once
2. It’s interesting to see that our mind doesn’t accept positive thoughts that easily but negative thoughts, that’s smooth.
3. It has worked for me and it surely will work for others too.

Team YourDOST

YourDOST is an Online Emotional Wellness Coach. Through YourDOST anyone can Sign Up and anonymously seek advice and guidance from Counsellors, Psychologists, Special Friends, Mentors and other experienced individuals.