Impostor Syndrome

*cue Impostor Syndrome*

Did you know that Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou dealt with Imposter Syndrome (IS) too? A lot of people deal with it at some point in their lives. I do too at work and during presentations.

More than often, people with IS believe that their work does not deserve as much attention as it has received. There is a feeling of ‘fraudulence.’ A lot of good students believe that they got into their dream school only because of an admission error and that they were there by mistake. Feelings of impostorism can stop people from sharing their opinions and ideas with peers and even stop them from applying to dream schools where they would excel.

Recently, I attended a workshop on how to deal with IS. Dr. Lira De La Rosa, a counseling psychologist and a speaker at the workshop, told us about the five types of IS:

  1. The Perfectionist – often setting excessively high goals for themselves, feeling as if 100% of their work needs to be perfect all the time.
  2. The Superwoman/man – the workaholic who relies on working longer hours for self-validation.
  3. The Natural Genius – everything needs to be quick, fluent, and correct on the first try.
  4. The Soloist – wanting to accomplish everything on their own, they don’t believe in asking for help.
  5. The Expert – measuring competence based on ‘how much they know’ only and so end up feeling like they are never good enough.

On some days, I suffer from all of the above.

The reason why so many people go through imposter syndrome may vary from person to person. An example of causes of IS could be parenting in Asian culture. There is a huge difference between Asian and American parenting. Asian kids are often penalized if they are anything but perfect. ‘Tiger parenting’ is an infamous word associated with Asian parenting. This creates a psychological pattern of self-doubt in young adults belonging to this culture. Ethnic minorities and first-generation students are even more likely to experience IS. An amalgamation of stereotypical settings, parental expectations, and marginalized ethnic status can contribute to feelings of incompetence and fraudulence.

Research and corporate settings should encourage talking about such feelings because when talked about, you will come to realize that people literally at any level suffer from IS. It is much more common than we know. We should be allowed to freely talk about our feelings and confidently function in our respective fields.

2 thoughts on “Impostor Syndrome

  1. Wow, I never knew this was considered a syndrome. That being said I always felt I was closely related to “the perfectionist” as well as “the soloist”. Great blog!

    Like

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