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You're a fraud! Or are you...?

Imposter syndrome: a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. 'Imposters' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.


Imposter syndrome. I hear this phrase everywhere…in conversations, podcasts, online forums, etc. It is something that so many of us struggle with at one point or another. The idea that one day, someone is going to “expose” us as unlikeable or unqualified, even when all of the available evidence begs to differ. A few examples in my own life are intrusive thoughts like, “you’re not as good of an employee as you think you are” or “these people aren’t your friends, they are only humoring you.”


If I had to guess, I would say that these thoughts are influenced by the expectations pushed on young people today. For instance, at work, a high level of productivity is valued above all. Another example is social media; a perfectly curated presence is the standard. It may be useful to aspire to these things, but when you hinge your identity on them, imposter syndrome can be extremely damaging.


Here are some of my methods for shaking off these thoughts. My first step is to acknowledge that imposter syndrome is common. Research shows that 70% of the population experiences imposter syndrome at one point or another. It is also helpful to pause, take a step back, and think of all the things you have accomplished. Look back to old emails where you received praise, or think of a time when you got a heartfelt compliment. Better yet, think of all the times you have praised or complimented your colleagues and friends! Then treat yourself to the same kindness!


It is important to remember that you shouldn’t rely on imposter syndrome to keep you motivated. This is a slippery slope of negative reinforcement. Need some positive reinforcement? Give peer support a try. Taking Flight gathers every Thursday at 5pm on Zoom to create space for empowerment, support, and encouragement!


I hope this helps. If you would like more information about imposter syndrome or just want to talk, reach out! You are not alone.


hrizkallah@mdcoalition.org

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