Impostor syndrome also known as impostor phenomenon is when one feels inadequate or like a fraud and is submerged by the thoughts of being caught or tends to attribute success to luck rather than skill or effort. Evidence of success doesn’t imply the absence of impostor syndrome, because from research, most successful people do experience this emotion sometimes and there’s nothing abnormal about this feeling.
Impostor syndrome usually struts in when you find yourself in a new environment or you are being faced with a bigger opportunity. Always be reminded that it isn’t a deficiency or mental illness, it’s just an irrational fear, but if allowed a place is capable of taking charge and making your fears a reality, it’s eminent that you have a proper assessment of your skills and performances and know what you are capable of.
“People experiencing this phenomenon often tend towards perfectionism. Unhealthy perfectionism leads to unrealistic expectations that can’t be met, as well as a constant fear of failure. This focus on doing everything perfectly can also lead to procrastination, due to the worry of not meeting those unrealistic expectations or a struggle to ever stop working on something that’s already good enough, while more work piles up.”- Belle Cooper
Types of Impostors
“Man know thyself” — Socrates.
Five types of impostors has been discovered by Dr.Valerie Young, an impostor syndrome expert and they are;
- The Superhero
- The Expert
- The Soloist
- The Perfectionist
- The Natural genius
The Super Hero
This is the workaholic who believes that exerting more effort than required will get the job done and if it doesn’t, they are thrown off balance with anxiety and depression.
These set of impostors believe that they need to know it all before they can explore new opportunities or take up new challenges, they are always searching for new knowledge to fill a gap they feel is a vacuum so that they don’t feel incompetent. Examples of expert impostors are people who don’t apply for openings just because they don’t meet up to all the required criteria or qualifications.
They are of the school of thought that asking for help may expose one’s incompetence, so they avoid working in a team, but would rather work alone to avoid being seen as frauds.
Individuals who fall under this category are more concerned about what they did wrong than appreciate their accomplishments. They’re prone to a high level of anxiety, doubt, and worry.
The Natural Genius
They master new skills quickly and with so much ease and any deviation from this norm, gets them sad and questioning their capabilities.
Imposter Syndrome Triggers
Impostor syndrome can happen to anyone, but certain factors trigger it and they are;
- The-clever-one tag: individuals who are made to believe that they are superior to other intelligently are prone to have impostor syndrome when they can’t accomplish tasks that they feel should be done with ease.
- New challenges/opportunities: Most people feel a rush of impostor syndrome when they are faced with new opportunities, they forget about their abilities that got them to where they are and are overshadowed by the thoughts of their inabilities.
- Growing around gifted siblings or friends: people who grew up in environments like this are prone to having impostor syndrome because they are always in a competition to meet up with their gifted friends or siblings so they don’t look different from the rest and this is a major fuel of impostor syndrome.
The Negativity of Impostor Syndrome
- Development of an unrealistic self-image: Impostor syndrome births the desire to always look out for external validation to avoid being considered fraudulent, and this results in individuals developing false self-images that are all out to impress others and often they are left unhappy.
- Denial of competency: It leaves people feeling that their successes are as a result of luck rather than their abilities, intelligence or smartness, so they believe in exerting more effort than normal to validate their competencies.
- Low self-esteem: It births low self-esteem and leaves one to wallow in fear instead of accepting new challenges and forging ahead.
- Job dissatisfaction: It leaves people unhappy and unsatisfied in their jobs because there’s always that constant fear of being discovered as a fraud if they decide to take up a new challenge or new responsibilities, so they get stuck in jobs that don’t give them emotional and financial satisfaction instead of exploring great job opportunities.
Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
- Talk to someone:Talking to a trusted family member, friend, colleague or a professional counselor will help you to differentiate between your feeling and reality. Being open about your feelings will help you get get the needed help.
- Accept and believe compliments:You deserve to be celebrated for your accomplishments no matter how minute they are, so accept those accolades when they come pouring in.
- Be yourself: Don’t develop a false self-image just to feel accepted, keep being consistent in what you do and believe in your capabilities.
- Accept that nobody is perfect:“Nobody is perfect”, say this with me. Accept yourself, your flaws inclusive, this will help in building your confidence and worth. Mistakes are inevitable, don’t forget this.
- Get educated: Know your personality type and read about the syndrome and how to curb it.
Impostor syndrome isn’t a mental disorder and in totality isn’t an impediment to success, some great people once felt this way too. It’s important to point out that a thin line between reality and perception and also get to understand that impostor syndrome is an unrealistic feeling that if given a right of way will override reality.
It’s pertinent for individuals who experience this phenomenon to talk about it, be confident to face their fears, talk about their challenges, know their competencies, celebrate accomplishments, accept compliments and be open to receiving accolades. These are great tips for curbing impostor syndrome.
- No man is perfect.
- Love yourself, your flaws inclusive.
- Be yourself.
- And never forget that flaws are inevitable.