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Imposter Syndrome: Career Barriers For Teenagers

Imposter Syndrome: Career Barriers For Teenagers


You know that feeling when you think you're not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to succeed? Like, you see all these amazing people around you and think, "I could never do what they're doing, I'm just not like them." That's the Impostor Syndrome talking, and it messes with your head big time.

The weird thing is, it happens because you're comparing your behind-the-scenes, raw, unedited self to everyone else's highlight reel. You know all your doubts and mistakes, but you only see other people's successes. That makes you think they're perfect and you're not, which is totally not true.

Everyone's got their own set of problems, anxieties, and doubts; they're just good at hiding it. It's like everyone's playing the same game of pretending to have it all together. But trust me, no one actually does.

So what do you do about it? First, remember that everyone's human. Even the most intimidating people you know have their awkward and vulnerable moments. Just think of them in super normal situations, like going to the bathroom. Yeah, they do that too! Everyone's got their own struggles; they're just not broadcasting them like a reality TV show.

Next, stop waiting for someone to give you the green light. Nobody knows what they're doing 100% of the time, not even the people who look like they've got it all figured out. If you wait for someone to tell you it's okay to go after what you want, you might be waiting forever.

In short, you're just as capable as anyone else out there. You've got your own set of skills and talents that the world needs. Don't let the fear of not being good enough stop you from chasing after what you really want.

The Truth: No One Knows What They Are Doing

Walt Disney

Today, Disney is a name that's synonymous with childhood joy and blockbuster movies, but the journey to get there was far from a fairy tale. In his early years, Disney was fired from a newspaper job because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas," according to his editor. After that, he started a number of businesses that didn't last too long and ended in bankruptcy and failure.

Imagine being Disney at that moment, a guy who believed he could build an entertainment empire, being told he had no imagination. That would make anyone second-guess their abilities and perhaps feel like they're not meant for a particular career.

But Disney, like all great achievers, took those failures and learned from them. He continued to take risks that were backed up by an unwavering belief in his creative vision. In 1928, he finally struck gold with the creation of Mickey Mouse, leading to the Disney empire we know today.

Albert Einstein

He's one of the most famous physicists who ever lived. But what you might not know is that he had a tough time in high school.

Einstein was born in Germany and went to a school that was rigid and authoritarian. The learning style didn't suit him, and he clashed with his teachers. He actually dropped out of high school at age 15 because he was so unhappy. Some reports even say he failed math, although that's a point of contention among historians. Either way, he didn't shine in the traditional academic setting. If he were a teenager today, he might feel like he didn't belong or wasn't good enough to succeed in science.

Despite all of this, Einstein never lost his curiosity and passion for learning. He continued to study and eventually was admitted to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich after failing the entrance exam on his first try. Years later, he would go on to develop the theory of relativity and win the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Steve Jobs

Before he became the iconic founder of Apple, Jobs faced a string of failures and setbacks that would have made any teenager doubt their path.

Jobs was put up for adoption soon after birth. As a young man, he enrolled at Reed College but dropped out after just six months because he felt like he was wasting his parents' hard-earned money on an education that seemed meaningless to him at the time.

Even after co-founding Apple, things weren't smooth sailing. He was actually fired from Apple at age 30, the company he had started in his own garage. Imagine creating something from scratch, seeing it grow, and then being told you're not good enough to be a part of it anymore.

But instead of letting this huge setback define him, Jobs saw it as a chance for reinvention. He went on to acquire Pixar Animation Studios and returned to Apple a decade later, leading it to become one of the most profitable companies in the world. It was under his leadership that Apple introduced groundbreaking products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

Questions To Explore 

  • Do I Avoid Certain Career Paths Because I Don't Feel 'Good Enough'? Are there jobs or fields you're interested in but avoid because you think you're not smart enough, skilled enough, or just plain not "enough" to succeed in them? This is a key sign that Impostor Syndrome might be at play.
  • Who Are My Career Role Models, and Why Do I Think I Can't Measure Up? Look at the people in careers you admire. What makes you think they're more qualified or better suited than you? Is it their education, experience, or just a vibe they give off? Understanding this can help you see where you're selling yourself short.
  • What Career Milestones Scare Me the Most? Is it the job interview, the first day on the job, or maybe even the thought of leading a project or team? Identifying the career steps that scare you the most can help you understand where your Impostor Syndrome kicks in.
  • If I Weren't Scared of Failing, What Career Would I Choose? Imagine a world where you couldn't fail. What career would you dive into? This question helps you separate your actual interests from the fears and self-doubt that may be holding you back.

More Resources

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Careers That Matter provides online programs to teenagers across the globe. The organisation is based in Melbourne Australia. We have students from across Australia including Sydney, NSW 2000, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Perth, WA 6000, Adelaide, SA 5000, Hobart, TAS 7000, Canberra, ACT 2600, Darwin, NT 0800. We also take students from The United Kingdom including London, Europe, and the United States including New York , Canada, New Zealand including Auckkland and Wellington, and Asia including Singapore and Malaysia.