Feel Like A Big Liar? Here’s What You Need To Know About Imposter Syndrome

 

If you haven’t heard the term Imposter Syndrome, it basically means to feel as if you are a fake or a phony, and that you’ll be found out soon. Much like the “fake it ‘til you make it” motto, imposter syndrome is when you feel like you are not qualified enough — even if you are. So many people feel this way, including myself. All throughout high school and college, I constantly told everyone who would listen that I wanted to write a book called “The Art of Bullshitting.” I truly believed that everything I was doing was built on total BS, that I actually wasn’t as smart as I seemed to be, that my 4.0 GPA was just dumb luck and I just had the knowledge of how to slide by. 

It wasn’t until recently that I looked back and realized that I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. While sometimes I may have bullshitted through a few essays, I overall was smart and knew exactly what I was doing. And not only was I smart, but I was an insanely hard worker. Throughout college, I had anywhere between 2-4 jobs at one time to pay for rent and to get all the experience I could possibly get. I worked at my university, I worked at internships at local newspapers, and I took all the freelance jobs I could find. This was all while taking around 18-21 credits a semester. Writing this all out, I feel like I’m bragging, or being annoying, but I need to show you the work I put in to get to where I am now for it to make sense. I constantly told myself and others that I was a faker and that I was just BSing my way through college, but I wasn’t.

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The Imposter Syndrome

 
 
 
 
 
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This is what many women go through in almost every career path or walk of life. While it happens to men, too, today we’re going to focus on why and how it affects women. As a woman, it can be hard to believe that the work you are putting in is anything worthwhile or an accomplishment. Imposter syndrome is feeling like you are lying to everyone around you just by being a smart and accomplished woman. The imposter phenomenon (as it’s also called) was originally coined by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in a 1978 paper called “The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women.” In this paper, they worked with 150 “highly successful women” who all felt as if they were imposters. In a famous speech by Michelle Obama, she, too, admitted that some days she felt like a fake that was going to be caught out.

 
 
 
 
 
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One cause of imposter syndrome is the fact that women are not as often given positions of power. According to this 2019 study by Lean In, “for every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired.” It was also found that men hold 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38%. When it comes to women of color, the odds are even lower. In a 2020 study by Catalyst, it was found that “women of color hold just 4.6% of board seats in the Fortune 500.” How can women, and specifically women of color, feel confident in our accomplishments when we are statistically not given leadership roles? 


How Do I Stop Feeling Like An Imposter?

 
 
 
 
 
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This is a feeling that can be hard to shake. First, take a look at your accomplishments, maybe even pull up your resume. Think about all of the hard work you put into your life. Take some time to realize that you do belong and alter your way of thinking. For one, why do you do what you do? Hopefully, there is passion behind the work you do. You don’t go to work every day to make yourself feel accomplished, right? You might go to work because you’ve found your calling, or you like to help people, or you are inspired to do so. Don’t let your feelings of being fake hold you back from what you are meant to do. When I take a look at my why, I often forget how I felt about myself, and remember that I am doing my work for a reason. 

You might also want to think about the constructive feedback you’re giving yourself and work on improving. Do you feel like a fake because you haven’t mastered a certain skill? If you work on it and get better, maybe your feelings will lessen or disappear. Another way to cope with this is to take a hard look at your work setting. Are you struggling with self-doubt because you’re not seeing positive role models in positions of power? Is that making you feel helpless? Looking at your surroundings and making these hard acknowledgments may be a step in the right direction. There are many ways to work on your self-doubt, so take the time to do so and build back your confidence. 

You are not a fake. You are not bullshitting. You are smart. You are successful. You are not an imposter. 

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Have you ever felt like an imposter? Share your story below — we can probably relate!


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