Impostor Syndrome: The Phobia You Probably Already Have
Ladies, does this sound familiar?
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Picture this: You’re in a meeting, a class, or a tutorial and someone says something you disagree with, or even says something you’d simply like to make a point about. You’re about to pipe up, or maybe you already have, and suddenly a creeping feeling of dread washes over you and you start spiralling in your head.
Who am I to say this?
I’m not even qualified for this job.
Do I really know what the hell I’m talking about?
Everyone here is going to realise I am a fraud.
Do these thoughts, feeling, and reactions sound painfully familiar to you? If so then, congratulations: you have Impostor Syndrome, a phobia that makes you feel like impostor in your environment when, in reality, you aren’t. Not only is it common, but it’s likely almost every single woman you know has experienced it at one time or another.
Let’s unpack this monster and talk about how you can beat it.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Technically speaking, Impostor Syndrome is an affliction high achievers face where they constantly fear that they are a unfit to be in their environment, despite being highly qualified, and feel as though they are a fraud. However, practically speaking, it’s the phobia many people face that makes them feel like they are unqualified for whatever position they are in even when it’s not true.
This can manifest in a number of ways. It can be in a relationship, feeling like you’re not worthy of your partner, in your job, feeling like you’ve ‘tricked’ your employer into hiring you, or even just in a debate or argument, feeling like your thoughts and opinions aren’t worthy even when you’re not out of your depth.
Essentially, it’s the head trash wrongly telling you that you don’t deserve whatever role you’re in.
Who gets it?
Are you a woman? LGBT+? BME? Disabled? People who identify into a minority or liberation group are largely the ones who are affected by Impostor Syndrome. This is because of a laundry list of reasons too long to detail in one post, but can essentially be boiled down to society undermining them in general. Because they go through life with the world treating them like they’re lesser, Impostor Syndrome is able to find more opportunities to creep in and trick its host into feeling like they are, indeed, a fraud.
If you identify into more than one of these, you’re lucky enough to have an even greater chance of dealing with Impostor Syndrome, and to feel its effects even more severely.
Of course, anyone can experience it, but women and minorities especially do.
How can I deal with it?
Because Impostor Syndrome can manifest in so many different ways, it’s hard to prescribe a single set of things everyone can use to manage it. However, there are a few universal bits of advice to help you deal:
Acknowledge it: Knowing (and admitting) that you have Impostor Syndrome is crucial to you minimising it. Say it to yourself regularly and mercifully and you'll start to notice when you're spiralling with self-hate before it becomes unmanageable.
Watch your mouth: Stop talking shit about yourself out loud, in your head, and to other people. Impostor Syndrome is fed on you moving beyond just self-deprivation and into full fledged self-sabotage. When you notice that you're doing it, do your best to cut off your negative words.
Tell your friends: As I said before, you are likely not alone in feeling this way within your circle of friends. Once you hear your talented friends saying they have the same fears, you'll realise how baseless these feelings are. Talk to each other and support each other.
Although it’s not officially defined as a mental disorder, Impostor Syndrome is very, very real. It's easier said than done, but do your best to keep the unfounded bullshit from undermining you.
- Words by Sarah Manavis.