Maybe you have ‘Imposter Syndrome’?! But then again, maybe not…
The Imposter Phenomenon
Some of you may have seen this term bandied around online and in press lately, and surprisingly it is not a new phenomenon. Coined in the 70’s, the study has only seemed to gain real traction now – as technology gets more advanced, expectations get higher and the definition of success gets pushed further beyond the horizon.
To put it simply the term impostor phenomenon occurs when an intelligent, talented and successful individual continually displays accomplishments but refuses to believe it is down to their own ability, but merely luck or effort.
The list of modern day sufferers is an impressive one, including iconic British women such as Emma Watson and Kate Winslet. Whilst men have been known to exhibit ‘symptoms’, it is amongst women that ‘Imposter Syndrome’ manifests most frequently and most intensely.
Of course the study puts it primarily down to childhood and women’s representation in society. For millennia women have been portrayed by a largely male-dominated society as the weaker, less capable sex and women have apparently internalised and accepted this as truth.
Whilst I see the logic in this argument, I find it hard to get on board with. In this day and age women’s representation is become more equal and they are portrayed as anything but weak and incapable, so why would it be now that imposter syndrome is on the rise?
Something that I do identify with is the idea that women, as the more autocritical sex, do not automatically put their success down to ability, as men are more likely to do. Apparently women with the so called ‘imposter syndrome’ often attribute success to a temporary cause, for instance luck or effort, as opposed to men who often accredit their success to the internal, stable factor of ability.
So now what?
According to research 70% of all people suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’. However, what I find the most surprising, from all my research, is that it is only 70%?
Who doesn’t suffer from a little self-doubt? Who has ever started a new job and felt convinced that they might not be up to scratch? Or pitched their boss for a promotion, only to get it and regret it immediately when the anxiety slowly creeps in?
Who are these illusive 30%; these superwomen who feel completely secure in what they do without ever questioning it? Who put in no effort and rely totally on their ‘ability’ for excellence? I confess I have never met anybody like this, and feel sure I never will.
To doubt and to fear is to be human. If you are having feelings of inadequacy or fraudulency, then it probably means you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. This is great! Only in this space do you learn and develop.
Those who fear failure also fear success. They fear growing and they fear losing sight of the shore, being the small fish in a big pond. These people are in the end only holding themselves back from reaching their full potential.
So accept that niggling sense of doubt and embrace the fear, because it means that you are moving onwards and upwards. You are pushing yourself to be all that you can be.
By saying ‘yes’ when you really wanted to say ‘no’ you have shown that you are not an imposter; you are in fact an incredibly brave and ambitious individual who deserves to be in the place you have carved for yourself. The only imposters are those who pretend they have never felt this way too.
What do you think? Join the discussion below.