“I don’t want to do this now.
I’ll ignore it.
There’s so much on my plate.
How can I be expected to be the best mom in the world and serve fucking organic strawberries in the park, and also do this for fuck’s sake???
(Oh the sky is pretty, why aren’t I out? It’s a lovely, sunny day. I hate my life.)
That thing gets forgotten.
Oooooh (insert your favourite brand here) has a sale. Let me check what they have. I need cheap clothes to save money.
*stomach continues to knot*”
That’s a stream of consciousness piece of humour from one of my writer clients about her imposter syndrome.
Perhaps you recognize it?
Maybe you’re stuck in a pattern of procrastinating to the point your stomach’s in knots and your work output has stalled. Well, join the club, you have imposter syndrome!
I say “join the club” not to make light of what you’re going through – I say it because nearly three-quarters of the population admits to experiencing Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives.
That they got lucky, somehow.
That they aren’t deserving of their success, and one day, people will realize they are frauds.
Imposter Syndrome Messes with the Mighty. Women in particular.
And many if not most are in the top tier of success in their respective fields! If you don’t think Oscar winners, Pulitzer Prize nominees, and high-flying businesswomen suffer from Imposter Syndrome periodically, take a gander at this list!
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
“Every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself — or even excelled — I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again.”
Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright
“Ah, the impostor syndrome!? The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh god, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’
Maya Angelou, Pulitzer-prize nominee and renowned poet and author
“I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
Natalie Portman, Academy Award-winning actress
“When I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999…I felt like there had been some mistake — that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”
Samantha Bee, Canadian comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actress, and television host
“It’s that impostor syndrome when you sit around thinking, ‘Why would they hire me? Oh my God, when are they going to figure out that I shouldn’t be here?’ I guess that they never figured it out. I got pretty lucky.”
There’s that “got lucky” thing again.
Success is Not Luck!
Trust me, ladies, your success is not “luck” – it’s hard work, drive and determination that got you where you are today, imposter syndrome be damned!
I’ve said I’m personally dedicating time and resources to make that statement as close to true as I can.
We’ve now established that a LOT of people experience crippling self-doubt occasionally, and after reading the list above, you might not be surprised to hear that 66 percent of those people are women. Why? Some say it’s due to the staggering weight of responsibility we carry around on our shoulders, juggling work life, family responsibilities, and today’s socially driven fetish to “be perfect” – right down to how we act and look.
So, how do we fix it? First, let’s figure out where you sit on the “imposter syndrome” scale, so to speak.
- The Perfectionist – They have such high expectations for themselves that even small mistakes will make them feel like a failure.
- The Superwoman/Superman – They put in longer hours, never take days off and must succeed in all aspects of life in order to prove they are the “real deal.”
- The Natural Genius – They are used to things coming easily, so when something is too hard or they don’t master it on the first try, they feel shame and self-doubt.
- The Soloist – They don’t like to ask for help, so when they do, they feel like a failure or a fraud.
- The Expert – They continuously seek out additional certifications or training because they feel as though they will never know enough to be truly qualified.
How Childhood Imprints on Your Mindset
Wherever you place yourself, these feelings don’t just appear “out of the blue.” Imposter syndrome stems, not surprisingly, from childhood. Maybe you never felt your grades were good enough? Or you had superstar siblings that outshone you at every turn. Perhaps there wasn’t much love or appreciation in your household, and nothing you did was ever good enough?
I can tell you some stories about all of those. And so can many others.
These ideas become internalized, and what you believe creates your reality.
It creates the driving need to achieve, yet never feeling like you really deserve it.
To keep striving for overachievement that is rarely possible, and constantly feel like a failure.
Look, I’ve been trained my whole life not to oversimplify diagnosis. And this doesn’t come easy for me. But there are some UNIVERSAL TRUTHS.
And imposter syndrome is one of them.
You’re smart and accomplished because you’re SMART and ACCOMPLISHED!
Not because of luck, or chance, or lack of competition or whatever else you’re attributing to it.
And there can be more of it.
I can show you how.
You might know you’re stuck in a rut — you might even know exactly why you’re feeling self-doubt or like a fraudster. And you would change those feelings in a heartbeat, right? Except you never do because something holds you back.
What’s holding you back is NOT REAL. And I can help you dismantle it.
Tomorrow I will give you the first of 3 ORs that can help guide your thinking to making imposter syndrome an ex-best friend.