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An Imposter Syndrome Victim’s Guide on How To Believe In Yourself

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIT chapter.

“Any work looks wonderful to me except the one which I can do..”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s 9:58 pm and you’re almost finished with your work for the day. Suddenly a feeling of uncertainty and dread pools in your gut. The sudden influx of negative feelings almost forces you to stop whatever work you’re in the midst of doing. Maybe you took a quick work break and were mindlessly scrolling through Instagram comparing yourself to people your age or viewing so many Tik Toks you’re pretty convinced your thumb is disjointed from the rest of your body.

The virtual “geniuses” you view through your phone screen seem one thousand times more attuned to the secrets of life and you feel like you are light years behind in where you actually should be. Suddenly that Katy Perry line in Fireworks is so relevant and you feel like nothing more than a paper bag drifting through the wind of other people’s successes.

You close your books, shut that computer, put down that sketch pad, close your draft of the article you’re working on, and retreat back to your bed to hide and immerse yourself further in the ironic comfort social media still brings you. And when you sleep tonight (if you sleep tonight) feelings of incompetence race through your head while visions of you failing dance on your bed.

What is this feeling called and why is it so immobilizing?

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Even if you got that big promotion everyone else at your job has been eyeing (Take that Stacey and Daniel!) or you nailed that presentation you’ve been so worked up over for weeks, you still feel undeserved and as if little to no achievement was made.

Imposter syndrome is very real and it can get in the way of our daily work life and our confidence to do so. You could very well be one of the 70% of people who struggle with imposter syndrome in the workplace and general feelings of inadequacy.

The term was originally coined termed by “Pauline R. Clance” and “Dr Suzanne Imes” both psychologists who experienced lingering feelings of un achievement and inferiority.

In a blogpost written by Clance, she writes:

I heard similar fears from students who had come for counseling. They had excellent standardized test scores grades and recommendations. One of them said, “I feel like an impostor here with all these really bright people.” In discussing these students, Dr. Suzanne Imes and I coined the term “Impostor Phenomenon” and wrote a paper on the concept…”

I’m sure after reading you’re having an “Aha!” moment and you can relate to at least some of these feelings. You’re probably even finding that friends or family members you know fall victim to these self-doubting traps.

I hope you all are still digesting the basics of imposter syndrome and how many people it affects because if you thought this self-esteem-crushing syndrome couldn’t get much worse, it just did. Did you know imposter syndrome manifests into different categories?

To break down the precise feelings it may bring along below there are four different terms associated with imposter syndrome. “Human Results” discusses the different types of imposter syndrome as seen below, and the certain effects they each have:

The Different Types of Imposter Syndrome:

Perfectionist– this person’s work must always be at a high achieving level and high enough standard. If the work they produce is a little less than great or average, they experience imposter syndrome.

“Advice: The key here is that you give yourself credit when it’s due and stop dwelling on your failures; instead of regarding them as proof of your incompetence, try seeing them as lessons learned

Superwoman/Man– Believes they should be capable enough to achieve everything they desire if they are really “that good.”

Advice: Instead of looking for validation from others, try to find it within yourself. Think about where your skills and strengths lie; look for ways to boost your self-confidence and resilience and realize that you don’t have to be thinking about work 24/7 to be good at what you do

The Expert– believes they should know everything and have preknowledge of a subject they haven’t even been introduced to yet.

“Advice: Remember that skill gaps are normal, but they don’t detract from what you know; there are many people out there applying because they have most of the skills required and are quite happy to develop the others on the job. Take a leaf out of their book: focus on the skills and strengths you do have, consciously note your successes, and make a realistic plan to fill any gaps

“You think “Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”- Meryl Streep, on her Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can affe- wait. Mic drop, disc scratch and reverse back real quick. That was a quote from Meryl Streep. THE Meryl Streep on her experiences with imposter syndrome. So if you read this article and think you’re not qualified enough to be affected by this just know that one of the most legendary actresses in the world suffers from self-doubt as well.

It’s pretty cool to share similar self-doubting traits as a famous millionaire right? And before your imposter mind can say “I am definitely not on the same level as Meryl Streep to have the same self-doubt as her!” Maybe this will help put into perspective how much 70% can be. So many people you know (and don’t know) suffer from this in this day and age especially with social media being a big influence.

When asked how they got their confidence, did anyone ever tell you they “faked it till they made it”? What if I told you that the most successful people in the world kicked that self-doubt, renting out a room in their mind and ignoring it until they achieved their dreams and goals? What if I told you the only thing separating you between you and your goals is either acknowledging the self-limiting belief or choosing to ignore it?

Hi! Even though I never feel a short bio can really encapsulate my entire personality and how much I haaattee vegetables but looveee green juice, I'll do my best to sum it up for you in a few quick sentences. I am a middle child (and yes, I am the forgotten child) who grew up in New York with an admiration for community, connection, and collective healing. I have had a knack for writing since I was a youngin, and even though I don't have the Microsoft Office documents of my short novels that would have definitely been rated for mature audiences only on hand, I couldn't not chase after my passion for writing as I grew up. I'm a junior at 'FIT' and a current Advertising and Communications major. Besides crying over assignments and commuting to class, I also write content for a skincare company in California. I hope by joining HerCampus I can not only enhance my writing skills but also find a community of talented creatives who share the same drive for storytelling as I do.