F is for Feeling Like a Fraud: Imposter Syndrome

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A writer, lover of all animals and craft beer drinker - welcome back the wonderful and talented, Jennifer Lawson. I'm so happy to have you guest blogging again!

Feeling Like a Fraud: Imposter Syndrome
By Jen Lawson
byjenlawson.com (follow her NOW!)

Five words jumped out at me one night a few months ago as I was idly surfing the web.

It was an article and quiz that asked, “Do you have imposter syndrome?”

I took the quiz and, just like that, I had a definition for what I’ve always felt.

Imposter syndrome is a pervasive feeling that you’re a fraud, that you’ve tricked everyone into thinking you’re smart or capable and that everything you’ve accomplished in life has been because of dumb luck. And pretty soon, everyone will find out that you’re just scamming everybody.

When I started reading more about it, I became convinced that imposter syndrome is what happens to other people. They feel like frauds, but they’re really not — it’s just that self-doubt and fear are clouding how they see themselves. I, on the other hand, am an actual fraud.

I read more, and learned that believing you’re a genuine fraud is one of the characteristics of someone with imposter syndrome.

That made me feel like I was in a carnival fun house locked in a room of mirrors. What’s real and what’s not real and how do we know?

It’s maddening.

I first became aware of imposter syndrome while reading “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. She graduated with honors from Harvard and now she’s COO of Facebook and she still feels like she pulled a big scam and doesn’t deserve anything she’s earned.

It made me feel sad for her, that she’d feel such anguish when she has every right to be proud of her accomplishments.

Unfortunately, it’s a phenomenon that mostly affects women. I’m grateful that Sheryl Sandberg was honest about her struggles to accept how awesome she is because I think so many women experience this just think it’s normal.

So, if you feel this way, what do you do?

If your imposter syndrome is severe, it can put you in a dark place and steal any joy and excitement you’d feel about anything awesome that you do. Talking to a mental health professional would be a smart course of action, according to experts.

My case is more mild to moderate, and I’m happy to say that just being mindful of my thought patterns and acknowledging when I’m dismissing myself as a fraud is so helpful. It doesn’t really take those feelings away, but it does result in those feelings having a diminished impact.

I also signed up for an eight-week mindfulness meditation workshop at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital that begins later this month and I’m really excited about it!

So, if you can relate to anything I’ve written here, just know that you’re not a fraud. You deserve all that you’ve accomplished. Tell that voice in your head to STFU and be proud of yourself because you’re awesome.

Here’s a quiz you can take to see if you have imposter syndrome: CLICK HERE FOR QUIZ

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