Do you feel like a fraud?

Do you have this fear that someday, someone will find out that you’re not as good others perceive you to be? Are you anxious that you can be replaced anytime by someone better because whatever progress you’ve made in your field is a result of luck– not skill and hard work? There’s a term for that: Impostor Syndrome.

Put simply, Impostor Syndrome (IS) is a psychological phenomenon characterized by feelings of inadequacy despite one’s success. And it’s surprisingly not as uncommon as you think. It can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, personality, social status, and background. A college student is just as likely to suffer from it as a powerful CEO running a million-dollar company. It manifests in a wide variety of ways, from persistent self-doubt, overachieving, undermining your performance, to setting unrealistic expectations for yourself which leaves you in a constant state of frustration because, well, it’s almost impossible to please yourself.

This can be extremely derailing. No matter how good you have it, you just can’t seem to internalize your accomplishments.

Let’s say you got your dream job. Along the way, you’ll have this unshakable belief that you were never really qualified; it must have been a mistake on your employer’s part, or a product of great timing because when they hired you they were in desperate need of someone to fill your position. You’ll be constantly nagged by the thought that at any given moment, there’s a chance your boss will catch you and decide to get rid of you.


Because Impostor Syndrome can appear in many ways, it has been categorized into subgroups.

The Perfectionist– They are never satisfied. They believe they could always do better.

The Superhero– With their ever-present feeling of inadequacy, they feel compelled to always do and give more than what’s necessary.

The Expert– They believe they can’t be smart enough. They always wanna learn more, no matter how skilled they are. 

The Natural Genius– With their excessively high self-expectations, they are likely to feel down when their first attempt at something does not succeed. They tend to overlook the importance of work.

The Soloist– Do you see asking for help as a sign of weakness? Soloists tend to reject assistance coming from others, thinking that accepting external help might expose their incompetence.

The good part

While having Impostor Syndrome can have a negative impact on one’s everyday living, we can’t deny that there’s also a good side of it. At the end of the day, striving to do better will make you better, even if you don’t know it at the moment because your brain is too busy lying to you. However, as with any other things, too much of everything is not good.

If you’ve experienced Impostor Syndrome at one point, you should know that you’re not alone. Psychologists actually suggest you try talking about it with your peers, co-workers, and even your superiors. Being open about your fears helps in normalizing these feelings.

Also, if you did not know about IS before and reading this piece struck you with the realization that you might have it, take this as an opportunity to start acknowledging that what our brain tells us is not always true. In fact, we are so much better than our bad thoughts. They’re just voices: our skill, our talent, our accomplishments are all real.

Do you think you also suffer from Impostor Syndrome?

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