Many people, particularly as they embark on a new career, degree, or another form of activity, feel unsure and insecure about their abilities. To a certain degree, that’s perfectly normal and healthy–after all, no one has it all figured out right away, and humility can be useful for personal growth. However, if you find yourself questioning your judgment all of the time, or assuming other colleagues know everything you don’t, you may be suffering from Impostor Syndrome.
The key tenet of those suffering from impostor syndrome is the fear that they will be “found out”; that someday, someone will figure out that they’re a fraud and that they’re faking it. Of course, this fear is illogical, even more so because so many people suffer from it. Impostor Syndrome is rooted in the idea that everyone else is the ‘real deal’, but chances are, most people around you feel equally ill at ease.
There are a few flavors of Impostor Syndrome, so to speak. The “perfectionist” sets impossibly high standards and criticizes themselves for failing to meet them, while the “expert” feels like they have to know everything. The “superwoman/man” (and women are more likely to feel like impostors in male-heavy spaces) think they should excel at everything, while the “soloist” thinks they should do it all themselves. Then there’s the “natural genius” who thinks everything should come easily or it doesn’t count. Of course, these are all illusions, and recognizing them as such is the first step to owning your successes.128