According to the experts, it is typically high achievers that experience imposter syndrome. As such, having the condition is a sign you are hardworking and successful.

Indeed, rather than beat yourself up for experiencing feelings of fraudulence, perhaps you should congratulate yourself for being a champion! Still not convinced? Consider this: a real fraud doesn’t feel bad about deceiving people, while someone with imposter syndrome is constantly berating themselves. So, simply having this high-level of self-doubt actually makes you a good person.

4 reasons why pet professionals feel like fakes

Sure, imposter syndrome does not discriminate. It can affect men and women and people from different backgrounds and industries. However, there are a few reasons why pet professionals can feel like imposters.

1. Different routes to success

Take pet sitters, for example. You can become a highly successful and sought-after pet sitter without having any formal qualifications. Unfortunately, this can make us question our worth or compare ourselves to other pet professionals. In this case, it’s worth remembering that just because you don’t have ‘formal’ qualifications, this doesn’t mean you lack the necessary skills or experience.

2. The celebrity circus

Nowadays every industry has its fair share of celebrities. Just like the fitness industry has Michelle Bridges and Kayla Itsines, the pet industry has its own set of famous faces.

The rise of celebrity vets and famous animal trainers can either inspire us or leave us feeling like a fake. Indeed, just because you’re not doing TV interviews, you haven’t got a massive social media following and your face hasn’t been on the front cover of a mag, doesn’t mean your not amazing at what you do.

3. Social media

Sadly, social media only heightens our feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Seeing other dog trainers, pet sitters, or vets on social media can cause you to put yourself down. Particularly when they look like they’re at the top of their game, confident in their ability and exceeding their own expectations. However, remember you are only seeing what they want you to see. Social media can create a ‘false realism’, so forget others and focus on your own strengths.

4. It goes hand in hand with the territory

Research indicates that veterinarians are at high risk of imposter syndrome. An international study by Kogan et al showed that 68% of the 941 practicing vets met or exceeded the clinical cut-off score for imposter syndrome. More so, females and those who had practiced for less than five years were deemed at greater risk of developing the syndrome.

Overcoming imposter syndrome

While feelings of inadequacy can drive you to learn new skills, explore different opportunities or find your own niche, they can also be destructive.

Thankfully, there are many ways to stop fraudulent feelings and help you to recognise your own success and self-worth. Here are a few tips to help you overcome the imposter phenomenon.

Stop being a perfectionist

Yes, you want to do your best but no one is perfect! Not even the Queen! Understand that sometimes your best will just have to do — even if you feel it’s not perfect.

Recognise your own skills and abilities

Forget comparing yourself to other dog sitters in your area or the celebrity vets you see on TV. Instead, consider your own skills and achievements. All too often we forget what we have gained or learned along the way and how this has enhanced our success.

It’s time to take stock and celebrate your own success. You might even think up a few ways to celebrate or recognise your expertise. For example, you might create some handouts for your clients that contain useful tips or advice, hold a seminar or mentor a newbie to the profession.

Talk about your feelings

A worry shared is a worry halved. It’s important to discuss your feelings in order to work through them. Indeed, by sharing how you feel you might actually realize how many people suffer from imposter syndrome. Sometimes, just knowing you’re not alone is enough to make you feel more confident and less of a fraud!

Set goals

Think about your skills and expertise and set yourself achievable goals. This isn’t about aiming low; it’s about boosting your self-confidence. By starting off thinking about your skills, you might actually recognise some gaps. This is perfectly okay. Now you can fill the gaps by learning new skills or gaining knowledge in a different area. Ultimately, the goal is to gain confidence.

Have you suffered from imposter syndrome? Post your experiences in the comments box below.

Information sources:

Kogan, L et al. Veterinarians and imposter syndrome: an exploratory study. Vet Record. Volume 187, Issue 7, 2020.

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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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