“Impostor syndrome is a term coined in the 1970s by psychologists and researchers to informally describe people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.” (Wikipedia)
I heard this term used on a TV show a couple days ago by a medical intern who was afraid he wasn’t good enough, even though he clearly was. His coworker stated it was impostor syndrome – that he was afraid someone would find out he was faking it, even though he wasn’t. And then the coworker said something that really hit me, “Maybe we’re all just faking it.”
Are we all just faking it? I think it’s more that we feel the need to be better than we really are, no matter how good we happen to be. I definitely suffer from this syndrome, especially in my career. I am an accountant and over 20 years have worked my way up from file clerk to a Controller. That is quite an accomplishment; one must be good to do that. The problem? I only have an A.A. Degree so must companies in the big cities won’t even look at me. And when I do find a job, I feel like that lack of education makes me inferior. I have learned everything on the job and when I don’t know something, I can always figure it out. Of people I have worked with, I can tell that I am actually really good at what I do, so why do I feel like someone, higher-ups, are going to “find out” I’m a fraud and no good? I will say though that most of this started for me after the family drama and estrangements, which ripped my self-esteem apart.
Why do we do this to ourselves? In my mind, if there is even one thing I don’t know, then I must be an idiot. Honestly, it’s more that I am afraid THEY will think I am an idiot. I don’t give myself room for error and no one can live or work like that. We are all human and we all make mistakes and there is always more to learn. I have to wonder if even the confident ones sometimes feel like they are faking it.
In my personal life, I used to do this a lot as well, but not so much anymore. The family drama really opened my eyes to how others are and to how I am, who I am. I don’t pretend anymore and I hate being fake. That’s one reason I am glad I don’t attend family functions anymore – I got so tired of how fake everyone was and how they all tried to top each other. Life is about so much more that that!
I’m not sure why I shared this post exactly – maybe I am just hoping that those who see themselves in it can be more aware of their true strengths and stop doubting them, realize that we aren’t faking it. This is what I am going to try to do. I am a person, strengths and faults, aren’t we all after all?