Have you ever had the feeling of alienation? Of being afraid that people will realize you are just sustaining a facade behind which all your incompetencies and insecurities lie? That you are not actually deserving of your successes?
Many people actually feel this way day in and day out. Deep down, they feel as though they are mere charlatans whose valuable life experiences take root in fortuitous luck. In fact, even prominent figures like Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein, despite their far-reaching accomplishments, bore feelings of fraudulence not unlike everyone else.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome (IS) is a psychological phenomenon that reflects the tendency of a person to perceive his or her faults as grounds for inadequacy of accomplishing goals despite evidence of achievements. First identified by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, IS has been characterized as a repository of frustrated feelings and disbelief in one’s talents and capabilities. Through research, light has been shed on its prevalence as it manifests in people from various backgrounds, social statuses, and levels of proficiency.
Imposter Syndrome is having the belief that your threshold for competence is not the same as those of others, thereby overriding feelings of triumph and jubilation and resulting in inability to internalize and embrace your own accomplishments. High achievers often suffer from this chronic internal experience, so IS does not necessarily equate with a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence.
Types of Imposter Syndrome
In her research, Dr. Valerie Young uncovered patterns in people who encounter feelings of pretense stemming from a set of strict internal standards to which they attempt to adhere. Listed below are her five generalizations:
These people set very high expectations for themselves. When they feel like they have come short of reaching what they originally set out to do, they undergo fits of questioning their self-worth and competence. In addition, they have difficulty in delegating tasks, for they always strive for their works to be executed with utmost accuracy and finesse; when they do entrust the accomplishment of a piece of work to others, they often feel like they could have done so better themselves.
People with this competence type feel the need to always expand their body of knowledge to the point where they can safely say that they have acquired sufficient information for them not to be established as inept or unknowledgeable in their field. They aim to have a spotless resume so as not to shy away from the possibility of seeming inadequate to others.
3. Natural Geniuses
Natural Geniuses believe that the speed of mastering something takes precedence over the significance of efforts exerted. In addition to having unreasonably high expectations just like the Perfectionists, they ascribe their being competent not only to their ease of doing things but also to getting these right on the first try.