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Mental Health

Imposter Syndrome: The New Illness That Is Spreading Through Generation Z


Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” This syndrome leads those who possess it to believe that they are not deserving or adequate enough compared to what they have achieved. 

This syndrome leads to an increased amount of self-doubt and low self-esteem. Common symptoms of this syndrome include the fear of being discovered as a fraud, believing compliments only because they think the complimenter is nice and not because they actually earned the praise, feeling unworthy of success, feeling anxious or depressed and feeling underprepared. 

The causes of this syndrome include, family dynamics, cultural expectations, individual personality traits (such as perfectionism) and comparisons (comparing yourself or being compared to others). Imposter Syndrome also affects people of color more often, as much of it can be caused by a lack of representation in the workforce and in society as a whole. 

There are five types of Imposter Syndrome as identified by Dr. Valerie Youn in her article The Five Types of Imposters:

  • The Perfectionist: This type focuses on how something is worked on and will feel like a failure with even the smallest mistake. 

  • The Expert: This type focuses on the amount of knowledge learned and will feel like a failure if they lack any knowledge in any area. 

  • The Soloist: This type feels as though they must complete work entirely on their own and cannot take help from others. 

  • The Natural Genius: The type measures their worth in how long they can complete tasks. They are ashamed to take extra time or redo work. 

  • The Superwoman/Superman: This type focuses on how many tasks they can complete at once and will feel like a failure if someone has more roles than them. 


How can you overcome Imposter Syndrome? 

  1. First, start a conversation. Explain to your friends or therapist how you are feeling and discuss your experience. 

  2. Second, collect your positive experiences. When someone compliments you, allow yourself to truly take it to heart. Many people only focus on the negative side of things, remember the positive things too. 

  3. Finally, realize you are not alone. Having open conversations allows those around you to relate to your experiences and share their experiences as well. Common experiences can help us realize that we are not alone in our insecurities. 


Skylar Baker

Murray State '24

Skylar Baker is a Biomedical Sciences Major at Murray State University. Her on campus activities include being a part of the Murray State Honors College, and participating in the Pre-Health Professionals Club, the Environmental Student Society, and of course Her Campus at Murray State! She is originally from Paris, TN and enjoys playing tennis and hiking when she is back home.
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