Who’s The Impostor: An Article on Impostor Syndrome

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Jaimee Smith

These questions are part of the Impostor Phenomenon Test created by Pauline Rose Clance.

Impostor Syndrome, also known as the Impostor Phenomenon, refers to a self-sabotage experience where you believe you are not as capable as others believe you are. You simply believe you are a fraud and feel that one day everyone is going to see you for who you truly are. This self-doubting experience can affect anyone, even the most confident person. 

An anonymous student at Brashier Middle College said, “There’s times in life when I feel like I don’t deserve certain good things that are happening to me. For example, when guys tell me they like me, I don’t want to believe them.” 

Around 70% of people experience this phenomenon at least once in their lifetime. For example, someone getting a great job opportunity might feel as if it was merely because of luck and not because they were qualified for the job. Some people contribute their good grades to their fantastic teachers and not their own intelligence. Having a great teacher can make it easier to learn a subject, but it’s also important to give the brain some credit. 

“[Impostor Syndrome] was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes,” says Abigail Abrams in her article “Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real. Here’s How to Deal With It”. At first, it was theorized that only women dealt with this phenomenon, but it was later discovered that men dealt with it also. Clance created an Impostor Syndrome test that anyone can take.

The word “perfectionists” is known by many and mixes with Impostor Syndrome. Many perfectionists struggle with this experience because nothing is ever enough for them. Even if they meet 99% of their goals, they still feel like failures. The “mini-Einsteins” everyone knows from class feel like  frauds when they get a question wrong because their brain tells them they are now an impostor. 

Alex Lee, a junior at Brashier Middle College says, “When I’m around my friends, I sometimes feel like I’m not good enough to be with them.” Feeling excluded from friends isn’t always because there’s drama. Sometimes, it’s because a single person puts himself/herself down and sees them as less than their peers.

Children may even deal with Impostor Syndrome. An example of this is when a child is afraid to raise his hand and ask a question because he thinks his classmates will look down on him and think he’s stupid. In reality, other students probably have the same question but are also too scared to ask. 

In some cases, Impostor Syndrome can fuel motivation and help people achieve their goals, but it can also lead to constant anxiety while doing anything that takes work. People dealing with this might find themselves overpreparing for a test and becoming severely anxious, and then the test ends up being a breeze. An easy test is great and all, but the terrible feelings leading up to it aren’t always worth the perfect grade. 

The sad thing is, dealing with Impostor Syndrome can lead to a vicious cycle of unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and actions. During this cycle, a person is always on his toes. From family gatherings to group projects, he/her always feels like there is something in himself/herself that is going to be exposed. For them, the only explanation for their success is purely chance. 

So how does someone break this cycle? A great way to stop this phenomenon from happening more often is to recognize the signs. Talking to a therapist is never a bad idea because they are very knowledgeable when it comes to the human mind. Since Impostor Syndrome can affect more than one aspect of someone’s life, talking to someone can lead to getting help in those areas as well. 

Impostor Syndrome is very common among both men and women. Feeling like a fraud and out of the ordinary isn’t actually out of the ordinary. Many people experience this phenomenon and go many years without saying a word. Hopefully, as more people realize this is a real thing that people go through, more people will be willing to get help and talk about it.