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“Do I live my life or does life live me?” – My Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome
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“Do I live my life or does life live me?” – My Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome

Kinga Bartczak

This article deals with impostor syndrome, is personal, emotional and educational. I don’t want to tell you how difficult my path has been up to this point. I want to ignite a spark of inspiration, make you feel, inspire, confuse, and perhaps encourage action.

In any case, I hope that this brief snippet of my story may make a difference in your story.

The further up, the more distant from yourself

Those who know me know that I don’t follow a trendy term when I talk about impostor syndrome (also known as impostor syndrome). Rather, I am marked by a true story of suffering. Fortunately, from a retrospective point of view, my story has a (tentatively) happy ending. But the road there was really very long and very instructive.

I can’t necessarily say I held the role of “pretty” or “smart” daughter in my childhood. Both roles were already in the firm hands of my older sister, while my little brother claimed the “nestling” status for himself. So for me, in the end, the only role that ever remained was that of the “functioning” one. I took care of solid grades, chose my own subsequent schools, and independently organized which university I would graduate from. In the further stages of my life, family and many of my friends were rather supporting actors, because I knew that everyone expected me to be successful.

Am I a genius, an impostor, or none of the above?

Unfortunately, this development is a double-edged sword:

On the one hand, it challenges you, because you enjoy a certain trust from others and grow beyond yourself in the process. On the other hand, the apparent lack of interest of others in you and your life plans makes you almost despair. The consequence is the “impostor syndrome” that always accompanies me. Triggered by the desire to meet (perceived) parental expectations (keyword: parentification), I immediately developed an external attribution for every experience of success, i.e. I always attributed my success to external circumstances or coincidences. In addition, I had to struggle with procrastination and perfectionist “spurts”, which I had to painstakingly work off for years.

I reached a whole new level as a “workaholic.” Sleep was an “add-on” for me for years – nice, but overrated. I was desperately trying to keep up in the completely overheated multitasking student body, thinking it was worthwhile to sit up late at night working on chores and reading 2-3 books every week.

The interesting thing is that this exaggerated economization of humanity, in which man has to function as a performance machine, did not change in the world of work. Accordingly, when I entered it, I received confirmation of my behavior rather than a real opportunity for reflection.

I felt the consequences hard: 

Sleep disturbances, unhealthy eating patterns, emotional breakdowns, and incredible loneliness.

The way out of the impostor trap

From today’s perspective, I evaluate many of my actions in a more differentiated way and also view the behavior of friends and family more mildly than was possible for me at the time. Also, through my training as a Certified Systemic Coach, I am now better able to efficiently accompany women who suffer from similar behaviors of self-manipulation through goal-oriented coaching.

Nevertheless, I had to learn painstakingly beforehand that I must not be a “people pleaser” if I ever wanted to gain recognition for my performance, not only from the outside, but above all from myself.

Accordingly, the process of “self-knowledge” took quite a long time and I initially stood on the sidelines of my own life for years, watching myself instead of actively participating. Whether sad, angry, desperate or lonely – I worked. It wasn’t until I met my current life partner that I slowly began to wonder:

“Whose life are you living here anyway?”

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t regret any of my decisions and I’m glad I took each step of my life. This experience eventually led me to where I am today.

However, I have noticed that we sometimes overestimate our own importance and therefore believe that we have to fill every second of our lives with achievement and meaning. If you consider that we are only a “speck of dust” in this universe, it makes it easier to make unconventional decisions. If we also remember that we ourselves are the only person who spends life with us from the beginning to the end, is it any wonder how harshly we speak to ourselves?

Among other things, these thoughts have helped me overcome impostor syndrome and find a solid way to deal with it when it threatens to return.

Methods and solutions in dealing with impostor syndrome

In addition to circular questions, further training, supervision and my own reflection, entrepreneurship has also helped me. I jumped out of the 9-to-5 principle and into the 8-out-of-24 principle. Specifically, this means that I started planning my work around my life and not the other way around. Furthermore, I stopped measuring myself and constantly checking myself. No detailed time recording, no weight recording, not even steps are counted on compulsion. I have replaced time measurement with efficiency and action knowledge (what should be done) with effectiveness knowledge (how can something be done).

Ultimately, by becoming self-employed, I also gave up an insatiable longing:

The pursuit of security.

Although I always suspected it, it wasn’t until I became an entrepreneur that I learned that security is an illusion, no matter if it’s about partnership, finances or life – Any planning is fragile and extremely risky. I am now more concerned with taking conscious risks and valuing success more persistently.

This thought freed me, because I now knew:

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“The pursuit of security can feel like an anchor. While it protects us from life’s storms, it also holds us fast.”

From workaholism to meaningful entrepreneurship

Suddenly my path made sense. I now knew that I had to combine my life experience with my professional experience at the Federal Employment Agency and my passion and commitment to the advancement of women.

And so I became the person I am today:

Kinga Bartczak – Managing Director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH, which advocates a value-creating work environment in which every person can develop their self-efficacy and combine their life goals with their professional ambitions.


Kinga Bartczak – Female Empowerment & Business Coach who accompanies female professionals, executives and (aspiring) entrepreneurs on their way to professional and entrepreneurial success, always following the motto: “Commit only to what makes you happy.”

And likewise

Kinga Bartczak, a woman interested in literature, art and politics, who shows poise, makes confident decisions and does not always have to function perfectly.

If you are at a similar life point in your biography, can even identify with my story, or are stumbling across challenges professionally, I look forward to accompanying you on your journey.

In addition, I am equally pleased if reading this article has caused you to pause for a brief split second and ask yourself:

“Does my life still belong to me? And if not, how can I purposefully change that?”

About the author

Kinga Bartczak
 | Website

Kinga Bartczak advises, coaches and writes on female empowerment, new work culture, organizational development, systemic coaching and personal branding. She is also the managing director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH and publisher of the FemalExperts magazine .

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