The Imposter Within Me: Imposter Syndrome

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I’ve been hearing this phrase dropped around quite a bit lately: Imposter Syndrome. I had a general idea of what is meant, and assumed I probably fell under the umbrella somewhere. I kept trying to avoid it, but as we know, what the mind tries to ignore will fester and start to eat you alive. It took me probably a year and a half of hearing that phrase, thinking about looking it up, and then gently putting it on my “Things to Eventually Get To” list in my brain – AKA the shit that’s never gonna fucking get done.

Strangely though, I kept being pulled back to that phrase. So recently, I actually sat down to look it up and my search results ultimately led to Wikipedia – of course. Which, for anyone who thinks that Wikipedia is just garbage, you’re mostly right…. But! Sometimes you can go to the references area and strike gold. I found a few peer reviewed sources (I was shocked too!)

I have never felt good enough to be able to take credit for my small achievements. I always attributed any kind of small success to luck. “Geeze, I was lucky that xyz happened today that I could xyz!” It feels fake to call myself a researcher because I am not in a PhD program. It feels fake to call myself a writer because I don’t have any credentials to be considered one; as far as I’m concerned it’s just a creative outlet, something I have to do for school, and something I enjoy. I don’t even feel like my writing is even that great, even though I’ve been told by others that they enjoy my writing. I think, “They’re just being kind; they don’t actually think that.”

“Women who experience the impostor phenomenon maintain a strong belief that they are not intelligent; in fact, they are convinced that they have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.” (P. R. CLANCE & S. A. IMES) Great women like Maya Angelou, Brene Brown, …. have all admitted to having issues with imposter syndrome.

“Women who exhibit the impostor phenomenon do not fall into any one diagnostic category. The clinical symptoms most frequently reported are generalized anxiety, lack of self-confidence, depression, and frustration related to inability to meet self-imposed standards of achievement.” .” (P. R. CLANCE & S. A. IMES)

The family conveys to the girl that she is superior in every way—intellect, personality, appearance, talents. There is nothing that she cannot do if she wants to, and she can do it with ease. She is told numerous examples of how she demonstrated her precocity as an infant and toddler, such as learning to talk and read very early or reciting nursery rhymes. In the family members’ eyes she is perfect.

Imposter phenomenon is correlated with anxiety, and rank high on the neuroticism and perfectionism personality score. (SAKULKU, ANDALEXANDER 2011) I am both of those things 😊 Yay!

“a psychological pattern rooted in intense, concealed feelings of fraudulence when faced with achievement tasks”

Impostorism is a self-perception of fraudulence, which is a combination of cognitive and affective components, rather than an emotional disorder

The term Impostor Phenomenon could be easily misinterpreted because the term suggests that “the experience should be viewed as a pervasive mental illness or categorical personality disorder”

the self-perceived impostor feels inauthentic regardless of the views of objective observers

Reading through the list of characteristics of imposter phenomenon and realizing that your personality checks off all of the boxes is incredibly eye-opening.

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