Imposter Syndrome: An Ongoing Crisis

Imposter. The word inspires Cold War Era feelings of hostility, intrigue, and a desire to uncover the truth. But what do you do when the imposter is yourself?

I’m not talking about you being a spy (though I don't know your story) or your other dubious methods of gaining information. I’m talking about the feelings of anxiety you may get every day. The feeling that you’re a fraud, and will never be good enough. This anxiety can lead to the thought that one day, you’ll be unmasked, and everyone will see who you really are- a fake.

These heavy feelings of uncertainty can start to weigh on you and affect your life- whether it be you dropping that new weight-lifting class or breaking up a relationship because you feel inadequate. In other words, since you’re not sure you’re up to the task- you never try. And THAT is where the problems start.

 

To figure out if you have imposter syndrome, there are a few questions you can ask yourself, says Muse.com.

 

  • Do you feel like all your work should be perfect?
  • Do you get stressed when you’re not working, and are unable to enjoy downtime?
  • Have you sacrificed your hobbies?
  • Do you feel like you really haven’t earned your achievements?
  • Do you base your competence on ease, rather than the work you put in?
  • Does your confidence tumble when you experience setback?

 

Imposter syndrome is often found in perfectionists and other highly driven people. Many of us were used to “gold star” treatment as children, and now struggle with the idea that not everything will come naturally. There are different kinds of imposters, all based on personality, but the effects- namely lack of confidence and general anxiety, is common among college students.

So what can you do if you feel like a fraud? The first step is to realize that everyone has performance anxiety or doubts. More people suffer from feeling like an outsider than you may guess. It’s ok to be vulnerable and admit to others that you may not be as “perfect” as you seem. Having doubts or bouts of intense emotion is completely normal- and is one of the things that makes us human. Acknowledge your insecurities, and realize that even though you may not be as self-important as you originally thought, you can still improve.

 

Another way to help yourself feel more “valid” is to genuinely help others. Maybe your good deeds of the past have only been for resumes, or you feel pressured to be the “good guy” in every situation. While those acts of service are still good for the betterment of society, a better way to help others (and honestly, yourself) is to get involved in meaningful service. Forging meaningful connections with other people can help you feel more involved and needed. This can tie into the idea of being vulnerable- share your feelings with others through conversations or posting on social media. The more we expose our vulnerabilities, the more we can help others feel more at ease with their own mental health.

Take time for yourself! Remember that you are an incredibly complex human being. It’s ok to have bouts of depression or uncertainty, but you need to realize how many people care about you, and may be going through similar things. Take care of yourself by listening to others, and asking for help when you need it.,

 

A good friend recently asked how I was doing, and I explained to her that I felt guilty for taking time for myself, even though I was stressed. Her response?

“Would you ever tell a friend or a human being that they didn’t deserve a break? NO. So don’t tell that to yourself.”

 

Please remember that you are valid. And never let anyone (or yourself) tell you otherwise.

 

Picture Creds: 1, 2, 3