Have you ever felt like you didn’t deserve your success? That you got to where you are solely based on good luck and happy coincidences? Are you scared that people will discover that you don’t have any real skills and are a fraud? Do you have sleepless nights freaking out about taking on more responsibility or getting promoted at work because you know you’re really talent-less? If you too are a ball of self-doubt and find yourself undeserving of your accomplishments, no matter their size, chances are you could have Imposter Syndrome.
Defined in the 1970s, Impostor syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. Basically, you feel like a complete phoney. While initially, it was said to affect successful women only, it is now said to be experienced by everyone, regardless of gender and social status.
There are multiple reasons one experiences Imposter Syndrome. It can stem from personality traits or external surroundings. According to this article by Very Well Mind, if a person is inclined towards social anxiety, neuroticism or perfectionism, they may fall victim to Imposter Syndrome. They may constantly doubt themselves and feel pressured to deliver nothing short of 100%. Similarly, a person’s environment and past experiences can also play a role. If someone has grown up in a highly critical family (or in our case in constant awe of “Sharma Ji ka beta“) or felt constantly overshadowed by others’ achievements (we’re back to “Sharma Ji ka beta“), can experience it. Certain events such as starting fresh at university or being promoted at work can trigger it as well. The sudden change makes you doubt whether you belong there and can lead to all sorts of self-sabotage.
According to this article by Very Well Mind, some common symptoms are:
When these symptoms go unchecked, they can snowball into depression, paranoia, hysteria, eating disorders and worse.
Valerie Young, an expert on Imposter Syndrome and author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, has identified five types of “Imposters”. They are:
They strive for utmost perfection and if they accomplish 99% of their goals, they will focus on the 1% they missed rather than the 99% the accomplished. They set unrealistic goals and find faults in themselves when they don’t meet them.
They need to know every single piece of information before taking on a project. They will run themselves dry studying and learning new abilities. They never feel like they’re good enough and always strive to learn newer skills and get certifications.
They are quick to accomplish their goals and used to learning new skills easily. However, when they struggle or are unable to do something, they feel like a fraud and berate their innate talents.
They prefer to work alone and deem asking for help as a sign of weakness. They reject any assistance and instead often burnout on their own.
They constantly feel insecure and inadequate and hence go above and beyond what is expected (and also needed). They spread themselves out too thin to feel accomplished, leading to a mental collapse.
Suffering from Imposter Syndrome can lead to many harmful effects which can cumulatively break a person from within. According to this article by Medical News Today, some of these are:
Imposter Syndrome is tricky but it can be overcome. Stay tuned for how one can cope with this and defeat it once and for all.
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