According to dictionary.com, imposter syndrome is defined as “anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one’s accomplishments to luck or other external forces.”
I define it as one giant mind fuck.
I’ve struggled with it for years. First in music, then teaching, and now as a writer. My brain understands that feelings of inadequacy are fueled by a strange mix of insecurity and perfectionism, but my heart is convinced that I’m a fraud and I’m a hair’s breadth away from being discovered.
Sometimes I get on my own nerves. Sheesh.
So I started researching, and guess what? I’m in great company.
“Over the years, the stakes have become higher for me. Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud,’” Kate Winslet
“It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved,’” Emma Watson
“You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’ ” Meryl Streep
The list of quotes goes on and on. And then I discovered that it’s not just artists. Over 70% of Americans suffer from it too.
Which, oddly enough, makes me feel better.
Here’s a TED talk from Dr. Valerie Young, an expert on imposter syndrome. Well worth the eight minutes it takes to watch it, but my one great take away is that in order to stop feeling like an imposter, we first must stop thinking like one. We need to rephrase those pesky thoughts scripting through our head. Easier said than done, but I’m going to give it the old college try.
And just for kicks and giggles, Grammarly put together a playbuzz quiz to see which kind of imposter syndrome you have.
What about you? Do you suffer from imposter syndrome, and if you do, how do you combat it?