News about the Imposter Syndrome

Good news- I feel a lot less depressed lately.

Less than good news- I feel very beat down in some aspects of my life.

I was speaking to a friend very briefly today about how I feel I’m not measuring up. How every time I think I’ve done something exceptional, it seems to come back to me as having actually done a stupid thing or the wrong thing instead.

And these thoughts got me thinking about the Imposter Syndrome.

“a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved.”

I’ve always said to myself and to other people with similar feelings “fake it til you make it, because no one else knows what they’re doing either.” But the latter part of that saying is the hardest to believe. Why does everyone seem to know more or be better at things? Why do I, and others with the same feelings, feel like we’re not measuring up all the time? I don’t believe it’s that we are not measuring up, but we are exaggerating everyone else’s success. Not to mention others are also exaggerating their own success to impress.

Interestingly enough, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women. Of course,  I’m not going to call myself “high-achieving” because I don’t see myself that way… and that’s probably a bit of that Imposter talking. But why, as women, are we constantly second guessing our success and intelligence? Is it because women are still earning 70-80% less than what men earn? Or is it because affirmative action is practiced and we aren’t completely sure if we were the best candidate for the job?

Case in point, when I have to do public speaking I always feel like a blithering idiot. I get so nervous! But when I hear the recording or watch the video of me speaking, it does not sound the way I thought it sounded when the words were spewing out in what I thought was a jumbled mess! I get compliments from people who were listening/watching and I just assume they are being overly nice and trying to make me feel better.

I don’t have any answers on how you can feel less like a failure in life. But, when you start getting those feelings take a minute to step outside of your head and really take a look at yourself and your perceived failures. Also, remember that many of the people you may be comparing yourself to could be “in the middle of their story” while you’re “only at beginning of your story”. I often find I’m comparing myself to people 10 years older than me because we are colleagues or I respect them, their intelligence, and what they do. That’s really not fair to me when they’ve had an extra decade to gather knowledge and have learning experiences.

If all else fails, listen to April Ludgate.

Anyone else feel like an imposter sometimes? 

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