Tough Stuff

What’s imposter syndrome and how can you beat it?

If you've ever felt like all your accomplishments are due to luck, or you're a "fraud," or even if you just have intense sensitivity to constructive criticism, you might be suffering from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a psychological idea that involves an individual doubting their abilities and accomplishments, or "feeling one has of being inadequate in spite of strong evidence to the contrary. A feeling of being discovered to not know what we know," according to Seattle-based psychologist Peggy Flanagan. 

Why do people feel imposter syndrome?
While imposter syndrome is typically a trait associated with perfectionism, it can impact anyone, no matter their age or gender. However, because of the struggles that girls often face, especially when it comes to STEM or academic circles, they tend to suffer at a higher intensity than boys. "Girls are particularly vulnerable to fearing any success they achieve is unwarranted..They still continue to struggle to have a place at the table," said Flanagan. Imposter syndrome can affect any part of your life, and you might not even recognize that you have it. "It took me a long time to realize that my brain was just tricking me into thinking I didn't deserve my accomplishments and that I actually did deserve all I've succeeded at," admits Pranuti, 17.

Another culprit to imposter syndrome might be the internet and the automatic comparisons that come with seeing other people online. "Seeing other people my age accomplishing things much greater than anything I've done made my personal work feel minuscule, even if it was still amazing," explains Pranuti. "The internet preys upon the need to be ‘perfect’ by criticisms and comparisons," says Flanagan.

How can I deal with imposter syndrome? 
While there's no cure-all for imposter syndrome, there are steps you can take if you fear you've fallen prey to over-comparing. The first step? Recognizing that you feel the way you do. "Sharing one’s feelings and being more comfortable with viewing and accepting failure will help you overcome those feelings," Flanagan said. "I've even found myself suffering from imposter syndrome, and I've countered that by recognizing my tendency towards perfectionism and by being truly kind to myself." 

Slider image by Anthony Tran on Unsplash | Top image by Verne Ho on Unsplash


by Serena Sherwood | 5/27/2021