Can you Identify the Imposter?
Jessica is starting a new job today, she has recently graduated from university and is entering the work force. After five years of studying, Jessica is allowed to feel nervous about this new change, that’s normal right?
A thought pushes its way to the front of her mind, ‘You shouldn’t have gotten this job in the first place. You’re not what they are looking for. They’ll figure it out soon enough.’
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, she steps through the automatic glass sliding doors to her new office building.
They’ll figure it out soon enough… echoed within the lobby instead of the tap, tap, tap, of her heels.
At the end of Jessica’s first day, her supervisor commends her on diving head first into her new role and producing quality content.
Behind her smile and words of thanks, Jessica feels a thought slither up from the depths, ‘This was luck, you’re going to have to try twice as hard to be half as good.’
Defeated and disappointed about her first day on the job. Jessica walks to the nearest bus stop ready to go home and to prepare herself to do it all again tomorrow.
She asks herself, “How long until they notice?”
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome (IS) is a common psychological experience that effects around 70% of people. It refers to the internal belief that you aren’t as competent, intelligent, qualified or socially adept as other people think you are. IS can present itself in many forms for any period of time, ranging from a few days or weeks to years.
Just like Jessica in the story above, IS makes the person feel like a phony or a fraud within their day to day life, doing things they are otherwise capable of. If people with IS do achieve success, they will often pass if off as luck or a fluke.
Signs of Imposter Syndrome
- Inability to recognise your competence and skills
- Attributing your success to external factors
- Downplaying your performance
- Fear of not meeting expectations
- Sabotaging your own success
- Setting challenging goals and feeling disappointed when they aren’t met.
With these signs comes a vicious cycle of IS, when someone thinks they aren’t capable they strive to overachieve. This can be by staying up all night to complete or prepare for a task which results in them doing well. But thinking they only did well because of the excessive effort and stress they placed on themselves to get the task done.
This means that for the next task they will believe the excessive effort and stress resulted in their success, when in reality, they were capable of achieving their goals regardless.
Where does Imposter Syndrome come From?
IS can be present in various periods of a persons life. It is common for changes in life to trigger IS, such as transitioning from high school to university, from university to the workplace, changing careers or moving houses/suburbs.
It is also common for IS to be developed overtime by having a family or parents that place high value on achievement and fluctuate between praise and criticism.
Furthermore, already having anxiety or low self-esteem can make individuals more prone to developing IS. There is also a link between IS and perfectionism.
IS is an extremely common psychological experience and can occur in anyone at any point in their life. If you find yourself questioning your achievements, deflecting your success or accomplishments or having imposing thoughts that are increasingly more prominent don’t hesitate to seek out professional support.