Managing Stress Fueled by Imposter Syndrome

I’ve been suffering from stress.

Stress that has been fueled by imposter syndrome. It’s not something I’ve dealt with before, because I have worked on teams where I’m the only analyst. Now that I’m on a team of 20+ analysts and developers I suddenly feel out of my depth. I used to live in ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ world. Now I can see quite clearly what I don’t know and it’s overwhelming.

Here’s how I’m facing up to how I’m feeling, so I don’t one day run screaming from the building.

I don’t have to know everything, about everything.

Overthinking small mistakes, feeling totally lost in meetings because I don’t know half the technologies everyone else seems to be completely fine with, always having to reluctantly ask for help after spending an hour googling, lurking through databases and knowing that it must be some simple thing I’m missing. And to make it worse, constantly feeling like I’m falling farther and farther behind the next, new technology or AWS offering.

There is so much to learn about how things work now, and things are constantly changing. Instead of comparing myself to the seniors on my team I’m trying to use the sense of panic as motivation to learn more from those around me.

Not every request is an emergency

Our team has an inbound ticket queue, something new I’ve had to work with this year. While we don’t have SLAs on how quickly these are filled, the feeling they are piling up and not answered instantly is stressful. Mainly because I know I can’t whizz through and get everything ticked off in a day because I don’t have all the answers. They come in waves and it’s a seemingly impossible task to balance project work and ticket demands without falling prey to multitasking.

After talking to my manager I’m going to balance tickets with project work by blocking out time for both and remembering that even though the ticket is assigned to me I don’t necessarily need to be the one to answer. There are plenty of subject matter experts on our team. I can’t expect to be an expert in all these areas too.

I don’t expect tickets I raise with other teams to be answered instantly, so why do I put pressure on myself this way?

Leave work at work

I didn’t realise how much I was obsessing myself over my job until I had this conversation with my manager. On my walk to work, I was thinking about work. When I was walking home, I was thinking about work, even if nothing bad had really happened. I would sit on the couch, working or reading about work, then fall into bed dreaming about work. I was causing a lot of my own suffering, so have promised myself I don’t think about work when I’m not at work.

Remember the good stuff

It’s a little braggy, but given I’m the only one who reads it, it doesn’t matter. I’ve started a list of all the new things I’ve learned and technologies I’ve had to start using. Now that I’ve put it on paper it reminds me that I am capable of picking up new things and that they are worth learning.

Our team celebrates success with a Monthly Awesome Award. Everyone can nominate someone who has gone above and beyond with some nice words and a funny gif on our team Confluence page. This puts things in perspective and lets us all reflect on the good work we do, and everyone loves a funny gif.

It never ends

Talking to my manager has been a huge help. Getting feedback that I am on the right track, setting goals and taking some actions to block out time for projects, tickets and training have made the workload seem more manageable.

When I feel overwhelmed and think that I’m not meeting expectations I know I can talk to my manager and my team. There’s a lot I don’t know yet, the same as everyone else.

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