You’re sitting in a group with a bunch of your friends.
There’s the smart friend. The one who always gets everything right on the test. The one who is most likely to get into a great college and have a great future.
There’s the cool friend. The one who gets all the attention. The one who has enough confidence to fill the world. The one most likely to become famous.
There’s the tough friend. The one who acts like they are mysterious and has walls built up around them. But it turns out, they’re just a marshmallow inside. Most likely to become a detective.
There’s the jokester. The one who doesn’t take anything seriously. The one that makes everyone smile when times are tough. The one who will most likely become a comedian.
And, then, there’s you.
You’re not special. You don’t have anything that makes you shine, like the others. You’ve only managed to remain friends with these people because you’ve clung on to them like a leech. And you’re constantly worried they will leave you because they’ll realize who you actually are.
You’re nothing special.
Does that sound familiar?
Teenage insecurity or something more?
People of all ages experience this insecurity. And, luckily for us, this insecurity has a professional name.
This syndrome was first identified by two psychologists – Pauline Rose Clarence and Suzanne Imes – in 1978, and has since been improved upon by many other psychologists, such as Dr. Valerie Young.
In general, imposter syndrome applies to all ages, all genders, all ethnicities. It is built upon a foundation of insecurity. You feel as if you are incompetent and just not enough, even if you are actually skilled and creative. You can’t see the best of you; you only see the worst, and you work to cover that “worse” part of you.
And the important part about imposter syndrome is that it affects 70% of the population. No one is alone here.
There are five types of imposter syndrome.
These people set extremely high goals for themselves. And if they fail to reach that goal, they feel incompetent. Their belief in themselves falter, and self-doubt builds up.
But, like everything, you can get over this. Take your mistakes in stride. Be spontaneous. Leave the rules behind.
- “Natural Genius”
These people feel as if they have to be quick at learning something. It’s not based on effort for them. They also set extremely high goals, much like perfectionists. If they don’t get things on the first try, then self-doubt swallows them. They also don’t like involving themselves in challenges because they’re not good at it.
In all honesty, I believe I’m a natural genius. Everyntime I fail at something, I beat myself up for a few days until I finally drag myself out of that pit. And even then, I’m still haunted by it.
Again, you can get over this. View yourself as a work in progress. Like a painting, you’re going to have proceed slowly. You don’t start off with the entire picture colored in. You start off with a sketch, and then you slowly build upon the colors. Basically, work with small goals rather than reaching for impossible standards.
These people work insanely hard and long because they feel they are imposters among a group of people. This habit of work overload will affect their mental health and their relationships with others.
As always, you can get over this. Because this insecurity comes from a need for extrinsic motivation. You’re motivated because you want that stamp of approval. Work on doing things for yourself. Build your confidence by congratulating on every task you complete.
These people measure their self-worth by how much they know. They have to be knowledgeable in every idea to cover their worry that they will be exposed as unknowledgeable or inexperienced.
Basically, they hoard knowledge.
Focus on learning things for when you need them. Begin seeking advice from others; learn to rely on others for help.
These people feel as if they can’t ask for help. They refuse all assistance to prove their own self-worth.
Begin by telling yourself it’s okay to ask for help. Asking others will only help you. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
That’s a brief summary of imposter syndrome. Like I said, imposter syndrome affects 70% of the world’s population, so no one is alone here.
Take this from a fellow “natural genius”.
Here’s a helpful link if you want to read more on this topic. It’s quite fascinating.
Lots of love,