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Imposter Syndrome

By Porter Rodriguez

Edited by Emma Davis

Have you ever felt like a fraud? Like you don’t belong or aren't good enough for something? If so, you're not alone. These are classic symptoms of Imposter Syndrome, a psychological pattern that affects around 70% of people.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is when someone doubts their accomplishments or talents and believes that they’ve only succeeded because of luck. The syndrome was first named by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. Imposter Syndrome is not a disorder, but a pattern of behavior. People with Imposter Syndrome constantly feel like their success is due to good timing and circumstance, and feel like someday someone will expose the fact that they don’t deserve what they have. Imposter Syndrome affects all kinds of people, from public speakers to billionaire CEOs.

Classic Examples

Studies have found that certain types of people are more likely to have Imposter Syndrome. For example, perfectionists. When perfectionists don’t meet their every goal, they tend to feel like a failure and small mistakes make them question their own accomplishments. They also find success unsatisfying because they always feel like they could’ve done something different.

Kids who grow up being gifted or talented also tend to suffer from Imposter Syndrome. They’re used to things coming very naturally to them, so as soon as they face a challenge and don’t succeed right away, they tend to doubt their abilities.

Imposter Syndrome and Women

Studies have shown that Imposter Syndrome disproportionately affects women, especially women of color. When you experience numerous obstacles from a young age and are constantly told that you aren't worthy of success, but then begin to succeed, it’s easy to doubt yourself. You are also more likely to experience Imposter Syndrome when there aren't as many people like you in the workplace, and that is often the case for women and women of color.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Like most problems, the first thing to do is acknowledge the troubling thoughts. Think about them rationally. Remember that you’ve worked hard for what you have, and that nobody is perfect. Celebrate your achievements, because you deserve it! Another thing that you can do is share your thoughts with a trusted adult or mentor, because it's always good to talk about what you're feeling.

Everyone has doubts about where they belong and if they are worthy of what they have. However, it’s important to not let your doubts control your life. Remember that when you work hard and acknowledge your success and failure, you're on the right path!

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