Imposter Syndrome

Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday. My name is Mark Des Cotes, hey fever hit me hard this week, and I believe if you aren’t learning, you aren’t living. In today’s episode of Stuff I Learned Yesterday I talk about overcoming your self doubt.

Today’s Fun Fact of the Day: Today’s fun fact ties directly into my topic for this episode. Today, August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day:
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26 of each year is designated as “Women’s Equality Day,” and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

Here’s What I leaned yesterday.
My topic today isn’t about women’s right to vote, nor is it about women’s equality. My topic today is about women, and some men, feeling like they’re inadequate even though evidence says otherwise.

I’m talking about Impostor Syndrome.

I want to first thank Sofie for this topic. She left a comment for SILY episode 306 where I talked about Superhero Syndrome. That’s where someone takes on more responsibilities than they need or should take on. Sometimes doing things they are not qualified to do instead of doing the logical thing and finding someone who is qualified for the task. More often then naught it’s men that suffer form Superhero Syndrome.

Sofie pointed out that there’s another, almost contrary syndrome that affects mostly women called Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.

In layman’s terms, it’s the belief that you’re an imposter even though you’re not.

Now as I said, Impostor Syndrome is mostly, but not exclusively, found amongst women, especially high-achieving women who believe they are over-evaluated by others, especially their male counterparts.

So how do I, a man, qualify to talk about Impostor Syndrome? In reality I don’t. I had heard about it before, but until Sophie brought it to my attention I really didn’t know what it was. But I was curious, so I did some research.

After reading several articles and blogs about Impostor Syndrome I’ve come to one conclusion. It’s B.S. Not the syndrome, that’s real, and I believe that many people, mostly woman suffer from it. What I’m calling B.S. on is the view these people have about themselves.

If you are a successful woman in whatever you do, trust me you earned it.

It’s a common belief amongst sufferers that they only got to where they are by pure luck, or by deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. No matter evidence of their competence, those with Impostor Syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and don’t deserve the success they have.

Again, B.S. I don’t want to sound mean or come off as impassive. What I’m trying to say is, unless you’re trying to pass yourself off as a doctor without having gone to medical school, or trying to fly a plane without ever taking a lesson, chances are you got to where you are because you deserve to be there. And if I’m going to be really honest, I believe a lot of women should be much higher than where they are. Perhaps it is Imposter Syndrome holding them back but most likely it has something to do with whatever system they are in.

I don’t agree with it but I can’t deny that many high-achieving women are in traditionally male dominated fields, and their constantly trying to prove themselves to their peers may actually be preventing them from advancing.

What you need to remember is that you’ve earned that degree, or title or position just as much as your counterparts have.

When you were in school, you took the same exams as those around you. Sure some of your classmates may have done better than you on the exam but that doesn’t mean you didn’t earn your passing grade.

The same goes for your career. You were hired for your position because you were the best candidate. You got the promotion because you proved yourself. Are there people better qualified? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean you are not qualified yourself.

Impostor Syndrome is not a mental disorder nor is it a personality trait. It’s only a reaction to certain stimuli and events, and it can be overcome.

If you think you suffer from Impostor Syndrome here’s something you can try. A common “therapy” I found in several articles says that keeping a journal of your accomplishments can help you associate them with reality. By keeping track of those accomplishments you’ll alleviate your sense of inadequacy.

I hope that helps.

Here’s what I learned.
In my research for today’s episode I came across a lot of famous people that suffer from Impostor Syndrome.

Actress and Comedienne Tina Fey often feels people will realize she’s not that funny.

Michelle Pfeifer is constantly afraid that people will find out she’s not very talented.

Kate Winslett wakes up some mornings thinking “I can’t do this. I’m a fraud”

Even Tom Hanks suffers from Impostor Syndrome, in an interview he said ‘I still feel sometimes that I’d like to be as good as so-and-so actor,’ he continued. ‘I see some other actors’ work, and I think I’ll never get there. I wish I could.’”

Sure all these example I used are actors, but that’s because they are people we know. Even someone as talented as Tom Hanks sometimes thinks he’s not good enough. And yet he has the awards to prove otherwise.

You may not be as famous as those people, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be where you are.

If you feel this way about yourself. If you think you may suffer from Impostor Syndrome let me tell you this. You’ve played the major role in your success. It wasn’t those around you so stop comparing yourself to them. Nobody belongs where you are more than you do.

So how did all of this tie into today’s fun fact of the day? Today is Women’s Equality Day. It’s a day to celebrate women having the same rights as men. And that means you’ve earned your position. You are not a fraud. You didn’t get to where you are by luck. Your accomplishments are yours and yours alone.

If you can realize this, then there’s no telling what you can achieve. So don’t hold back. If you do you’re only robbing the world of the value you yourself can bring.

I’m Mark Des Cotes and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday.

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