You might be a fraud. You're not the only one. Let's do something about it. No, I'm not saying you should beat yourself up for feeling like an imposter (though if that helps, go ahead). But there are some things we can all do to minimize the effect of imposter syndrome on our work and our lives.
First, let's understand what imposter syndrome is. It's the feeling that you're not good enough for your job, or that you're only succeeding because you've been lucky or because people don't know how incompetent you really are. It's common among high achievers, and it's especially prevalent among women and people from other traditionally marginalized groups.
Second, let's contextualize imposter syndrome. It doesn't just happen to individuals; it's also a product of the organizations and societies we live in. So while there are things you can do to work on your own imposter feelings, there are also larger structural changes that need to happen to address the problem at its roots.
And finally, let's do something about it. Here are some concrete steps we can all take to start making a difference.
What imposter syndrome is
Imposter Syndrome is a term used to describe a feeling of self-doubt and inadequacy that often affects high achievers. People with Imposter Syndrome feel like they're not good enough for their jobs, or that they're only succeeding because they've been lucky or because people don't know how incompetent they really are. It's common among high achievers, and it's especially prevalent among women and people from other traditionally marginalized groups.
The term "imposter syndrome" was first coined in the 1970s by psychologist Pauline Clance, who observed that many of her high-achieving patients experienced intense self-doubt and feelings of fraudulence. The syndrome has since been studied extensively, and there is now a lot of data to support the existence of imposter syndrome and its effects.
Who experiences imposter syndrome
While imposter syndrome is relatively common, it's still not something that people talk about openly. This is likely because of the stigma attached to admitting that you feel like a fraud. After all, if you're successful, shouldn't you feel confident and secure in your abilities?
The reality is that imposter syndrome is normal and it doesn't mean that you're actually an imposter. In fact, feeling like an imposter can be a sign that you're a high achiever. If you're able to achieve success despite your self-doubt, that means you're resilient and capable.
Imposter Syndrome often affects high achievers, and it's especially prevalent among women and people from other traditionally marginalized groups. This is because these groups are already underrepresented in positions of power and authority, so people in these groups are more likely to doubt their accomplishments.
But imposter syndrome doesn't just affect marginalized groups. It affects people of all genders and backgrounds. The only thing that sets high achievers apart is their resilience in the face of self-doubt.
If you're experiencing imposter syndrome, there are three things you can do to start making a difference.
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3 Tips for Dealing with the Imposter Syndrome
The first step to dealing with imposter syndrome is acknowledging that it exists and that it's a real phenomenon. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to remember that imposter syndrome is often dismissed as a "women's problem" or a sign of weakness. By acknowledging that imposter syndrome is real and that it affects people of all genders, we can start to destigmatize it and create more space for open discussion.
The second step is to talk about imposter syndrome openly and without shame. When we keep our feelings of self-doubt and fraudulence to ourselves, they fester and grow. But when we share them with others, we can start to see them for what they are: normal human emotions that everyone experiences from time to time.
The third step is to seek out support from others who understand imposter syndrome. This can be done in formal settings, like therapy or coaching, or in informal settings, like support groups or online forums. There is strength in numbers, and when we band together with others who understand our experience, we can start to feel less alone and more capable.