Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
While dietitians have been working in the retail setting for decades now, it’s still a relatively small portion of the profession that works in this field. At the same time, you may be the only RD at your retailer. Add to this, the limited business education integrated into the dietetics curriculum. It’s the perfect set up for imposter syndrome experiences, isn’t it?
Imposter syndrome is a sense of inadequacy in a role. People experiencing it tend to be very critical of their own work and dismiss their achievements. They think they are in over their heads or that they are frauds in their roles. What’s most interesting about imposter syndrome, which was first studied in the 1970s by a team of psychologists, is that this phenomenon strikes high achievers most often. That’s right, high achievers are the most likely to experience doubts about their capabilities and skills.
If you find yourself experiencing imposter syndrome, here are tips for moving out of it:
Tip #1: Keep Track of Successes and Strengths
It’s sometimes easier to be self-critical, focusing on flaws or projects not going as you planned, than it is to consider all the amazing things you are doing. Keep a running list of your accomplishments as a way to visualize all your successes. Keep an email folder of all the positive feedback you receive from shoppers and retail colleagues; pull it out and review these comments when you’re having a bad day.
Tip #2: Manage Negative Thoughts
Your emotional state can often affect your perceptions. If you’re in the middle of conflicting demands of challenging projects, you might be anxious and/or feeling a lack of confidence. It’s important to separate these emotions from facts and counteract any negative thoughts about your capabilities with positive affirmations.
Tip #3: Knowledge is Power
While you can’t learn the totality of the retail industry overnight, intentionally working to expand your understanding of the business can increase your confidence and successes at work, preventing you from slipping into imposter syndrome.
Tip#4: Build a Network
A role as a retail dietitian can feel isolating. Building a network with other retail dietitians is essential to validating your experiences, having someone who understand your environment to bounce ideas off of, and gaining support. If your retailer participates in a share group, seek out dietitians who work for these retailers. Consider building your own mastermind group or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interesting in joining our next retail mastermind alliance.