Updated: Feb 17
What it is - What it is NOT - and What you can do about it!
#Imposter Syndrome. We have all heard about it. Many of us feel as if we LIVE it. But what is it really? Why is it gaining so much attention now? Is it really OUR fault as #women, to experience Imposter Syndrome? But most importantly… what can YOU do about it?
Let's start with some real-life examples.
#Lady #Gaga has won six #Grammy Awards, and 13 MTV Video Music Awards and has been named the World's 100 most powerful Women by Forbes for FOUR years in a row. She has been featured as Billboard's "Artist of the Year" multiple times and has been named one of the world's most influential people by Time. She's talented. She has an amazing voice, and she has killed it in the motion picture "A Star is Born."
And yet… she has said, "I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school…"
#Michele #Obama is the first African American First Lady who has served as a powerful role model that would influence the view that the entire world has of African Americans. Before her role as First Lady, she was an attorney who graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She is an advocate for poverty awareness, education, nutrition, physical activity, and healthy eating. She was Woman of the Year in 2008 - chosen by TIME Magazine and impacts the lives of millions of people every day.
And yet… she has said "…It doesn't go away, that feeling that you shouldn't take me that seriously. What do I know?"
Actress and Director #Jodi #Foster taught herself to read at three years old. She has started in multiple Hollywood hits, working alongside other famous film stars, and has advanced her career to directing powerful films. She has received the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honoree Golden Globe Award that is awarded to a performer with "Outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment."
And yet… she has said "[It was] the same way when I walked on the campus of Yale. I thought everybody would find out, and they'd take the Oscar back. They'd come to my home, knocking on my door, "Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep."
And speaking of #Meryl #Streep. This talented woman has been nominated an astonishing 21 times for the Academy Award and has won it three times. She has a record of 32 Golden Globe Award Nominations, winning eight. She has received 2 British Academy Film Awards, 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Primetime Emmy Awards.
And yet… she is quoted saying "Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don't know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?"
She was asked to be a judge on American Idol, has a concert residency in Las Vegas, has rocked out the Super Bowl Half Time Show, and performed at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. She was named the First Female Artist to have a #1 Album AND Movie at the same time in the US. And that is JUST a fraction of what this woman has accomplished.
And yet… she says "I think I'm an underdog. I always feel like I was scrapping from the bottom. Always. I always felt like I wasn't the one that was supposed to be in the room.
What the HELL???
Why are these amazing, beautiful, powerful women feeling like this?
Imposter Syndrome. The notion is that some individuals feel as if they ended up where they are, not because of their competencies, but because of some oversight or luck. Therefore, feeling like a FRAUD - an IMPOSTER.
It is the conversation that is happening right between your ears. And it shows up like this:
I'm not good enough…
I don't have the right experience…
Everyone else here knows more than I do.
I won't be able to deliver results.
I'm not, tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough… etc.
So who has it? Literally- ANYONE can have it. But remember, not everyone does.
There is no medical diagnosis for it. This isn't something you SUFFER from.
But if those feelings of self-doubt, that "I'm not good enough" resonate with you, you might have it to some degree. It is all about your perception. YOUR EXPERIENCE. This is your story and your life. Do not let anyone tell you if you have it or not - that decision is yours to make.
Imposter Syndrome shows up in women, particularly #women of color, and members of the #LGBTQ+ community. Because when you experience systemic oppression or are directly or indirectly told your whole life that you are “less than” or underserving of success, or that you need to fit a certain mold - but then you begin to achieve things in a way that goes against the long-standing narrative in your mind – you may experience this feeling of imposter syndrome.
So what can we do about it?
We can TALK about it. Talking about it is the first step to confronting it and dealing with it head-on. 99% of the time, someone else is feeling the same way you are, so talking about it helps to validate your feelings, which can help you move forward.
Find an #advocate who can support you and believe in you.
#MENTORSHIP - Get one, and be one. When you have a mentor, you have an ally who can sometimes see what you cannot. Then give back, by helping up the woman behind you, through your mentorship.
SHUT UP THAT INNER CRITIC. Is this how you would talk to your best friend? Your sister? Doubt it. That voice between your ears can be the most challenging one to conquer. It is natural for us to see all the imperfections, notice the mistakes, and beat ourselves up. But when you find that you are going down that road, stop and ask yourself if you are speaking to yourself, the way you would speak to your daughter or friend. Speak to yourself as you would speak to someone you love.
Reframe the Message: Instead of WHY ME? Think, WHY NOT ME? Don't stop because you are the youngest in the room. Flip the script, and think about the benefits of being the youngest person in the room. (Think social media trends, tech trends, etc.)
Reflect on your past achievements. When you just can't quiet that inner voice, sit down and look at tangible successes. Your degrees, certifications, or projects went off without a hitch. You got here because you did the work, and you earned it. Not because you rode the magic school bus. Take a moment and remember to celebrate what a badass you are.
Listen here for more on Imposter Syndrome - ITS MY POD