What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” The term was coined by American psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who published an article called “The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention“ in the 1978 journal Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice. In the study it was discovered that high achieving women sometimes struggled with believing their success was deserved even though it certainly was and in most cases they were deserving of more.
Imposter Syndrome however is equal opportunity, affecting both men and women and people of all walks of life. Still found most common in women in academia, i’ve noticed it abundantly amongst those in creative and tech fields where perfection is expected and people are constantly measuring themselves up against their peers.
Why Imposter Syndrome?
In my opinion, Imposter Syndrome is a side-effect of ambition. It is those people who have reached for something they felt was beyond their grasp and got it and now they’re feeling like “now what?”. They got that job or promotion, scholarship or award and now they feel the pressure of the new set of expectations. Instead of feeling deserving of these things people feel like they are frauds or imposters and they will be found out at any moment and that can lead to overwhelming anxiety. It is a bit of an odd cycle because it was their confidence in themselves and ambitious nature that lead to them pushing themselves to attempt something they felt was out of reach but now after receiving it that feeling of sureness is not there.
How to overcome?
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome isn’t just a quick solution, there are many more factors that go into it however there is one sure way to get on the path to no longer feeling undeserving or like a fraud:
Trust Yourself. You’ve made it this far for a reason. All of the steps you’ve taken either consciously or subconsciously have lead you to be successful.
Don’t Compare. Don’t compare yourself to others. The reason you’ve made it to this point is because you are you. There will always be someone smarter or more experienced but there will never be another you. Take that and run with it.
Reflect. Whenever you’re feeling self doubt take a look back at your accomplishments. Think about all of the little wins. I’m sure when you look through your own highlight reel objectively you’ll see that you have been making waves for quite some time and are quite talented. It is difficult to see the forest from the tree’s sometimes but when you look back at your track record that should ground you in the reality that you are awesome and talented and more than qualified for the success you’ve received.