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Meet Massy

Imposter Syndrome, a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Referring to imposter syndrome as a syndrome is to downplay how universal it is. It isn’t a disease, but a widely experienced phenomenon despite most demographics. Imposter syndrome is however, more prevalent in successful college or graduate students but can happen to most people. Often the more successful we are, the more we feel we are fooling those around us, that one day we will find out that we did not actually deserve or qualify for our accomplishments at all.

Having symptoms of imposter syndrome can leave you feeling that your achievements have nothing to do with you, when in fact, your achievements are exactly what they are because you did it! This unwavering experience of self-doubt is a part of the human condition, and while knowing that can come with a sense of validity, for me, I swim even deeper into the “syndrome” by frantically finding more evidence to prove that in fact, my experience must be different, because holding onto the idea that we are far more similar in our internal insecurities is hard! It can be scary or intimidating to hold onto your successes proudly, to defend them when needed, to hold strong to your beliefs even when doubted. It is hard! And at the end of the day, we only know the messiness and chaos of our own heads. We don’t know the insecurities or self-doubt swimming in the heads of our classmates, colleagues or mentors, and because of this, it’s so easy to feel alone. What we do know, is that humans are complex and messy, we are often brilliant and often unbearingly lost. We do and will succeed some days, and trip up, stumble, or throw away the map altogether other days.

Feeling like a fraud is human, but that doesn’t mean you have to live in that feeling always. Here are some of the ways that help me to shake off imposter syndrome:

  1. Acknowledge your expertise.

    Stop. Take a minute to turn around and look back to the things that you have accomplished. Make a list of them. Show yourself proof that you are here because of what you did back then. You have knowledge that is unique to you only! 

  2. Recognize that you are capable of greatness

    So you’ve accomplished something! Here’s an opportunity to recognize that you’ve accomplished that thing well. Look back at past projects, grades, and letters of recommendation, tangible proof that you have the tools and experiences that have led you to wherever you are. You did not cheat yourself here, you earned it. Look at kind letters from family and friends, spend time with people who remind you of the things you are good at. This is proof that you are good within, that people who you find value in, also find value in you just the same. You are not fooling them. With your faults and all, the people closest to you will see the success within that. 

  3. Honor yourself and accomplishments

    Celebrate yourself! Whether it be a latte, a walk around your neighborhood, a night out with friends, or a hot shower, choose something that will give you a designated time to celebrate yourself and the accomplishments that you have worked for. Let yourself know that you are worthy of success, so worthy that you deserve a treat sometimes!

  4. Seek out a mentor

    Seek out a mentor, someone with more experience in your area of expertise, but who you identify with. These people, just like you, will likely have experience with self-doubt and/or feelings of imposter syndrome. Finding similar insecurities in someone who we value can be a good reminder that everyone, even those who we look to for guidance has or has had inner and unwarranted self-doubt. 

  5. Power of Self Talk

    Talk kindly to yourself. Simply telling hateful and doubtful thoughts that they aren’t true can improve your confidence and worthiness. When it is sometimes too difficult to remember our strengths and successes, take it slow. Counting your daily successes matter too! Did you get out of bed today? Hooray! This can be very difficult for some of us, so try to remind yourself, and really find gratitude in that accomplishment. 

  6. Seek out a professional

    Because we don’t know other people’s traumas, fears, and vulnerabilities, it can feel very isolating in the noisiness of our minds. Putting our most vulnerable thoughts about ourselves out into the world, into the safety of a licensed professional counselor can ease the feeling of our fears being greater than they are. A conversation about them with someone unbiased to our situation, can show us how truly powerless they can be. 

  7. Talk to those around you

    Whether a friend, a family member, or a colleague, people around us can benefit from a shared human connection in which we all let down our walls, and find validity in other people’s experiences that are similar to our own. Humanizing success and deconstructing what that means to us by sharing our stories with a friend or two can provide us with a better and more grounded understanding of what success really is and how tripping along the way is completely okay! 


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