Imposter Syndrome

May 14, 2016

I was reading a post on The Toast (yes, it rhymes) by Mallory Ortberg (here’s the link – Everyone Has Imposter Syndrome – Except For You) and found myself laughing out loud.  In my case, this typically means two things:

  1. Someone has taken something that scares me and made it humorous.
  2. I have learned something (often in spite of myself).

She says, “According to Social scientists working on a decades-long population study have recently concluded that every single living resident of the United States suffers from a condition known as imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments, except for you, an actual fraud who is almost certainly on the verge of being found out by the people who only think they love and respect you any day now.” (emphasis mine)

Have you ever stood in front of a classroom, 20/30/40 sets of eyes looking back at you, and think to yourself, “I have NO idea what I’m talking about!  As soon as I open my mouth, everyone is going to know I’m a big fake.  I don’t know enough about this to speak authoritatively on it…They all know more than I do and I will have nothing to contribute.”


I don’t believe you.  I suspect that most of your reading this have had these thoughts at least briefly flit across your mind.  Whether you are an educator, a regulator, a sculptor or a dentist (okay, maybe not a dentist), it is not at all unusual to wrestle with moments of Imposter Syndrome.

Personally, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. It keeps me humble and it pushes me to continue to hone my craft.

For those of us who suffer from this more than occasionally, Margie Warrell, author of Stop Playing Safe and Find Your Courage, has a short video interview which gives a few suggestions on how to stop being held hostage by Mr. I.S. (Imposter Syndrome).

I have no illusion that at some point I can stop learning and growing and really, I don’t want to.  Don’t let your thoughts paralyze you, bury you in self-loathing, cause you to cease sharing the gift of the knowledge you do possess.





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