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Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is “the condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing success internally, despite being high-performing in external, objective ways. This condition often results in people feeling like "a fraud" or "a phony" and doubting their abilities.” While imposter syndrome is common and can occur across any age group, gender, profession, or racial demographic, individuals from minoritized groups may be more likely to experience it due to racism, social stigmas, and microaggressions.

              Many people describe their experience with imposter syndrome with statements such as, “ I feel like I don’t belong” or “I don’t think I am good enough to be here” and often spend time comparing self to others. It can be crippling, causing doubt and a lack of motivation. Some people first notice imposter syndrome creep up while in school, when performing a new task, or upon entering the workforce. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome can stunt growth and cause individuals to stop trying, especially if they feel like they will not succeed.

              Imposter syndrome can also cause a strain in work relationships. Imagine working on a team project and feeling like what you have to add to the project isn’t up to par, doubting your creativity and talent. This could lead to putting up walls, procrastinating, and possibly feeling shame. It is difficult to perform your best when these thoughts are plaguing your mind. It is also difficult to form connections with colleagues when you are fearful of “being exposed as a fraud”.

Here are a few suggestions to help conquer imposter syndrome:

1)      Reflect on your growth. Sometimes we forget how far we have come and the knowledge we have gained along the way. Maybe you started out with a desire to learn something new, which ultimately led to taking college courses and eventually to graduating with a degree in a field you are passionate about. Think about all you have learned since your first day in a college course until now and how this growth has led to your current accomplishments.


2)      Examine the evidence. You applied for a job and you were chosen as the person they wanted to hire. You have been in this position and succeeding as evidenced by [fill in the blank]. Sometimes we get so caught up in our feelings that we forget to examine the evidence and take time to celebrate what the evidence shows—you are doing great!



3)      Lean on others for support. If all else fails, turn to trusted mentors for support. The ones who have worked with you and have seen your growth, your drive, and how hard you work to accomplish what you set your mind to. For individuals with underrepresented identities, it can be helpful to connect in empowering spaces and communities, which can provide validation and empathy for navigating imposter syndrome in oppressive systems.


4)      Let go of perfectionism. Sometimes we are the ones setting the bar too high for ourselves. If you are setting unrealistic standards and continuing to not meet these expectations, it may be time to make an adjustment. Breaking away from rigid thoughts and expectations can help free us and enable us to start valuing our time, effort, and the work we produce.



5)      Have self-compassion. We are human, we are going to fail sometimes—and that is okay! It doesn’t make us phonies or frauds; it just makes us human. If we need to consult with others, if we don’t have the answer, if a specific task takes us longer to complete than the rest of our colleagues—it is okay. Give yourself a break, a pat on the back, a compliment—whatever it takes to bring you out of self-deprecation and into self-compassion. You are worth it and you are doing great!



              If you are struggling with imposter syndrome and you are noticing it is negatively impacting your work, relationships with others, your self-esteem, etc. please reach out to 253 Therapy and Consult today to discuss how starting therapy may help. As always, we are here for you!

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