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New Year, Same Imposter

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As our lives begin to plough into 2020, we begin to ponder how we would like this year to unfold... achieving grades, graduating, securing a first job, getting that work promotion, more money, more travelling, more socialising, more friends, more reading, more writing, more plants, more fitness, more cooking, more sleeping, less drinking, sober, vegan, 5 marathons, more – it can get a bit overwhelming.

(Well, maybe not the plants. You can never have too many plants...)

The reason we all want to achieve so much is because we think we aren’t doing enough. We think that people will think we aren’t doing enough. That our accomplishments already aren’t good enough. That, personally, we are neither good, nor enough. Consequently, we are scared that someone will discover that we are frauds, that we are not worthy of our positions, and that every success is due to luck; not any real performance of our own. But why do we feel this way?

It comes down to a friend of ours named Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is a phenomenon, common amongst high achievers who are unable to internalise their accomplishments and despite external evidence of their competence, characterise themselves by an intense feeling of intellectual fraudulence. They convince themselves that they are not as talented as everyone believes and that their lack of ability is going to be exposed. It can be described as the brain’s way of coping with subconscious delusions. There are many contributing factors that belong to our Imposter friend, such as the pressures for perfection, ever-growing social comparisons, the toxic competition in specialist professions, and the fear of failure.

It seems too clich​é​ and simplistic to refer to this only a women’s phenomenon, as both sexes can be equally affected. We hide our insecurities well, and it is normally after establishing and building a stronger relationship with someone that their worries and self-doubts come seeping through, whatever their gender may be.

However, it’s time that we all empower that inner Imposter. Experiencing Imposter Syndrome does not mean that you are weak; it means that you are tenacious. By using your self-doubt as a driving force, you can not become more competitive and focused, but also more negotiable, which in turn equips you with highly beneficial leadership skills. By accepting your Imposter Syndrome, you are also nurturing your confidence by accepting that everything is your own doing. That means that every failure is your responsibility, but this is something that only you can truly learn and therefore prosper from. Next time, channel your Imposter inclination from fraud to the feeling of humility, by staying honest and accountable. I believe that awareness, acceptance and appreciation of oneself, by avoiding the media and imposed social stereotypes, is key to preventing Imposter Syndrome from dominating our lives completely.

As we gaze into 2020, we shouldn’t focus on setting endless goals, or worrying if they sound good enough. We should set personal aims that we honestly want to achieve, however big or small. We should stand firmly against the tidal wave of societal expectations which constantly loom on the horizon, and we must welcome our Imposter with open arms each time they return.

Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor

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