Imposter syndrome is when you feel like a fake or a fraud in a certain part of your life, even if you’ve actually done well in that area. If you often doubt yourself, even in things you’re usually good at, you might have imposter syndrome.
It can make you feel restless and worried, and you might start thinking negative things about yourself. Imposter syndrome often comes with feelings of anxiety and sadness.
If you’ve been putting off building your online business, it might be because you feel like an imposter. You might think you don’t know nearly enough about online marketing to get started, or that you lack what it takes to succeed online.
And if you are having success online, you might think you’re just lucky and at any minute everyone is going to realize you’re a fraud and your house of cards will come tumbling down.
Do you know who has imposter syndrome?
- 41% of people report having imposter syndrome.
- 27% of other people also report having imposter syndrome.
- And the rest of the people have imposter syndrome, too.
That’s right – sooner or later, everyone has it.
The question is, what are you going to do about it?
Imposter syndrome can be a challenging experience, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone in feeling this way. Making friends with your imposter involves cultivating self-compassion and adopting a supportive mindset towards yourself.
When you have imposter syndrome, you doubt your own accomplishments and worry that others will discover you’re faking it. Even though you have proof that you’re good at something, you feel like you’re not good enough and that luck or other outside factors are responsible for your success.
You might downplay your achievements, ignore compliments and compare yourself to others, feeling like you’re not as good. You’re scared of failing and set really high standards for yourself, which makes you anxious, stressed, and in need of reassurance.
Imposter syndrome is often seen in high-achieving people like students, professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs. Things like wanting everything to be perfect, having a stressful job, society’s expectations, and not feeling confident can all contribute to imposter syndrome.
Here’s just a few of the many famous people who have publicly spoken about experiencing imposter syndrome:
David Bowie – Entertainer – “I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing. … I was driven to get through life very quickly. I really felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.”
Howard Schultz – Starbucks CEO – “Very few people, whether you’ve been in that job before or not, get into the seat and believe today that they are now qualified to be the CEO. They’re not going to tell you that, but it’s true.”
Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook COO – “There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.”
Tina Fey – Entertainer, Author – “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania, and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh god, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.”
Maya Angelou – Activist, author, poet, Nobel Laureate – “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”
Lady Gaga – Singer – “I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need for me to be.”
Arianna Huffington – Entrepreneur, CEO, author – “The greatest obstacle for me has been the voice in my head that I call my obnoxious roommate. I wish someone would invent a tape recorder that we could attach to our brains to record everything we tell ourselves. We would realize how important it is to stop this negative self-talk. It means pushing back against our obnoxious roommate with a dose of wisdom.”
Natalie Portman – Academy Award winning actress, Harvard graduate – “Today, I feel much like I did when I came to Harvard Yard as a freshman in 1999. I felt like there had been some mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be in this company, and that every time I opened my mouth I would have to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress.”
Sonia Sotomayor – The first Hispanic Supreme Court justice – “I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit. I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up.”
Tom Hanks – beloved actor whose films grossed nearly $5 Billion – “No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’”
Emma Watson – actress and activist – “Now when I receive recognition for my acting, I feel incredibly uncomfortable. I tend to turn in on myself. I feel like an imposter.”
What Can You Do if You Feel Like an Imposter?
I want you to know that it’s totally normal to experience imposter syndrome, and you’re not alone in feeling this way. As you can see, many successful people have gone through it, too. The first step in overcoming it is to recognize and accept your feelings of self-doubt.
When those negative thoughts start creeping in, try to challenge them with positive and realistic ones. You’ve accomplished so much, and you have unique skills and qualities that make you special. Embrace a growth mindset and see challenges as chances to learn and grow.
Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Talk to your trusted friends, family, or mentors about your feelings. Sharing your experiences with others who understand can offer you a fresh perspective and some reassurance.
Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements, big or small. Keep a record of them, and when self-doubt hits, revisit those successes to boost your confidence.
It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help or admit when you’re unsure about something. Opening up to others can lead to deeper connections and supportive relationships. We all have our strengths and limitations, and that’s okay.
Make sure you take time for self-care, too. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, like hobbies, exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Taking care of yourself is crucial for building resilience.
Instead of striving for perfection, focus on learning and personal growth. Embrace challenges as opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge. Remember, making mistakes is a natural part of learning.
And try to always remember that you’ve got this. Be kind to yourself and know that you have the strength to overcome imposter feelings any time you choose.