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Earlier this month, Michelle Obama spoke about imposter syndrome after being asked how she felt being seen as a ‘symbol of hope, to which she replied “I still have a little impostor syndrome, it never goes away…that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know?…” – Read more about Michelle Obama’s experience with impostor syndrome here.
So, what is impostor syndrome? Impostor syndrome can be described as a psychological pattern resulting in self-doubt, low confidence. Individuals experiencing ‘impostor syndrome’ do not believe their accomplishments are adequate. This feeling of inadequacy, in turn, makes them feel like ‘frauds’. Ultimately resulting in further stress as they worry that they will be ‘discovered’.
A variety of circumstances or situations can increase the chances of impostor syndrome. For example, childhood labels can cause impostor syndrome. If you grew up with a ‘gifted sibling’ you may develop ingrained feelings of inadequacy, so when you receive a job promotion or good news you do not feel like you deserve it. New challenges or change can also stir emotions of feeling like a ‘fraud’ or ‘impostor’
Understand the feelings you are experiencing are a part of impostor syndrome. Say it out loud ‘This is impostor syndrome’, it helps.
Theodore Roosevelt described comparison as the thief of joy. There will always be people in the world ‘doing better’, that’s not to say what you’re doing is inadequate. There is no use comparing your highs and lows to someone else’s. We are all on our own path and the quicker you understand that the more likely you are to strive.
Speaking to someone can help. Whether it is a professional or a friend, getting things off your chest will give you a sense of peace. The feeling of inadequacy will start to fade away.
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