Michelle Obama was asked how she felt about being viewed as a “symbol of hope”, in a December 2018 talk. That’s when the former First Lady disclosed something countless millions of women and men around the world experience, but often don’t have a name for. “I still have a little [bit of] imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me.”
Damn, who knew, like you and me, even Michelle Obama would also be a victim of this Syndrome. On the bright side though, at least we are not alone..
Now let me ask you something. Have you ever thought something along these lines?
I can’t do it because I don’t have enough experience.
I won’t be successful because I’m not good enough.
I have failed before, certainly, I’ll fail again.
If you haven’t, congratulations, let us in on your secrets in the comments section!
Imposter syndrome is akin to you having no idea what you’re really about, and all it would take is the whisper to crumble your entire façade. Instead of being the awesome writer that you could potentially be, the whisper pushes you to a far more humbling “reality” that You suck.
Many writers use it to describe the feeling of wanting to call themselves a writer, but not feeling like they’ve earned the privilege.
I get that. I feel that.
Those who haven’t faced the imposter syndrome may think that it’s all delusional. But sufferers know that they constantly face the anxiety and threat of ‘being caught out’.
The truth about feeling like a fake
The idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications, was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. This syndrome affects all kinds of people from all parts of life: women, men, medical students, marketing managers, actors, and executives.
Success can create a cycle of self-doubt for people with impostor syndrome. Even when the person achieves an important milestone, they may be unable to recognize their accomplishments. Individuals with this syndrome deny their competency. They may feel that their successes are due to outside factors chance. Similarly, when things go wrong due to external reasons, the person may blame themselves.
We see that men and women perceive successes, challenges, and failures very differently. Women tend to attribute their success to temporary causes, unlike men who attribute their success to the internal, stable factor of ability.
Did you know: three-fourths of women executives have experienced imposter syndrome and believe they put more pressure on themselves to succeed than men.
But why does it hit the women harder?
Well, the answer lies in the societal stereotypes oppressing women throughout her life. When you experience systemic anguish or are directly or indirectly told your whole life that you are less-than or undeserving of success and you begin to achieve things in a way that goes against a long-standing narrative in the mind, imposter syndrome occurs.
“We’re more likely to experience imposter syndrome if we don’t see many examples of people who look like us or share our background who are clearly succeeding in our field,” – Clinical psychologist Emily Hu
Fight that imposter in you
Four years after stepping into the role, Rana el Kaliouby, the CEO of Affectiva says, “Sometimes I still hear the ‘Debbie Downer’ voice in my head. But I have learned to reframe the message. It is now my advocate, not my adversary, challenging me to move forward out of my comfort zone.”
I know it’s a scary place to be because your success makes the fear of failing so much more threatening. I know because I’ve been there. In fact, I am still there.
I know you want to stop feeling like an imposter in a snap. But that’s not how it works.
If you truly want to beat the syndrome you must adjust your self-limiting thinking to what it takes to be “competent”. Rewrite your inner rule book. It is important to remember that perceptions do not always reflect reality. Dig up your beliefs about yourself and look at how your family and your tribe perceive you vs. how you perceive yourself.
When you live into what you believe your purpose is, you can’t go wrong.
Share in the comments what you’ve been telling yourself you can’t do. I promise you are not alone. Let’s crush those ‘I can’t’ statements, and rephrase them into a way that encourages you to live into your purpose.