"I'm a fraud." There's a thought that's crossed my mind more times than I care to admit. You've likely felt it too. You step into a room, your accomplishments clinging to you like an ill-fitting dress, and suddenly, the narrative of self-doubt begins. Welcome to the disorienting world of Imposter Syndrome.
The Uninvited Guest
Imposter Syndrome is an uninvited guest at the party who sticks to you like a shadow. Professional women, accomplished in our fields, still find ourselves questioning our worth. "Do I belong here? Am I good enough? What if they find out I'm not as capable as they think?" Such questions marinate in the mind, ruining the taste of success.
Shonda Rhimes, American television producer and screen writer famously known for Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, tells of a time she and many other well-deserving women were receiving awards. The presenter gathered them in a private room and began to pour out accolades on each of them individually before the big awards ceremony. As she named the unbelievable accomplishments of each women who had defied the limits, the responses were all the same. They acted like it just happened one day when they tripped over the mop in their kitchen. None of these outrageously talented women owned their worth. Imposter Syndrome impacts us all.
The High Cost of Silence
Addressing Imposter Syndrome is an imperative we can't afford to ignore. It's not a minor glitch; it’s a deeply rooted issue that tarnishes our ability to lead and make an impact. We can sweep it under the rug, but let’s be honest, ignoring it will cost us more than facing it. It will cost us our dreams, our self-worth, and a fulfilling career.
What the Research Says
If you're like me and need empirical evidence to tackle an issue, here's your arsenal. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of people experience Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives. Seven out of ten people in any room, likely questioning their worth just like you.
The Hidden Curriculum
Why is it even though we know about Imposter Syndrome, we still fall prey to it? Could it be our innate nature or perhaps a social construct? The answer lies in both. Many of us were raised with the adage, "Be humble, don't brag." And so, we confuse confidence with arrogance, accomplishment with luck, and credibility with pretentiousness. In our quest for humility, we unknowingly handcuff ourselves to mediocrity.
Disassembling the Imposter
The first step in breaking free is to acknowledge the imposter within us. Take a moment to review your accomplishments and own them. Write down your strengths and talents, even if it feels awkward and uncomfortable. The very act of writing them gives these thoughts a form, making them less likely to get twisted by your mind.
The Power of Community
Seeking out mentors and peer groups where openness is encouraged fosters new courage. You’ll find as you open up about your feelings of inadequacy, others will too. By being vulnerable, you give others permission to be vulnerable, and a collective healing begins.
Embrace Your Worth
No, I’m not advocating for an inflated ego or narcissistic tendencies. What I am advocating for is a balanced view of yourself. Your accomplishments are not flukes or lucky breaks. They are the result of your skills, your intellect, and your hard work. Own them. By embracing your worth, you’re not just freeing yourself; you're setting an example for other women to break free from their self-imposed limitations.
The opposite of Imposter Syndrome is not arrogance; it's authenticity. It’s the sweet spot where we live freely, not confined by the illusory judgment of ourselves or others. It’s the place where we are no longer the imposter but the protagonist of our own story.