Do you have impostor syndrome?

Does this sound familiar?

♥ You constantly downplay your skills and achievements
♥ You’re reluctant to celebrate anything you’ve achieved because you think others helped you there or you got there by deception
♥ You think of others as inherently more qualified or in the know than you.
♥ You’re more likely to go for something you’re overqualified for than underqualified
♥ You’re afraid of being found out as a fraud or phoney or that people will discover you don’t know as much as they think you do
♥ You constantly compare yourself to others
♥ You hold yourself to a higher standard than you hold others

Vintage white birdcage from Emma Louise East Grinstead - Darling Lovely Life blog - Do you have impostor syndrome?

Don’t put yourself in a psychological prison (images in this post were taken at Emma Louise shop in East Grinstead)

If you’re nodding along right now, you may well be suffering from Impostor Syndrome, a term coined in the late seventies to describe people who can’t internalise their objective skills and achievements – or who put any evidence that they are worthy of their accomplishments down to luck or help from others.

According to many psychologists, Impostor Syndrome affects high-achieving women more than any other demographic. Some psychologists go so far as to suggest that generally men tend to blame external factors for any failures, while women will blame their own inadequacies. And, ironically, Impostor Syndrome tends not to afflict those who are genuinely incompetent or undeserving, but high achievers who are holding themselves to impossible standards.

Pastel pink white and blue china birds decoration - Darling Lovely Life blog - Emma Louise East Grinstead - Do you have impostor syndrome?

You don’t have to be perfect to be great at what you do

While I’m a big advocate of striving to better oneself (if I could spend my lifetime studying subject after subject I probably would) I am also concerned at the number of talented, inspiring people who, despite being so amazing, constantly doubt their own abilities. We’re all works in progress, and perfection isn’t a real thing – so stop looking at others and imagining they have a perfect internal process that you don’t have. Nobody does.

A straw poll of my Facebook friend showed that the majority of people who I personally know and admire feel this way – and I’m not immune either. I struggle enormously to celebrate big achievements because I always find a reason why what I’ve achieved isn’t good enough, or isn’t what it seems, or was achieved by luck or chance.

So for all of you out there who erroneously believe you’re not good enough, I want you to stop and really think about everything you’ve achieved in your lifetime. Write down your achievements, and then try to imagine that you’re looking at someone else’s life story or CV. I bet you’d be pretty impressed if someone else was the brains behind everything you’ve done. And then every time you start to make an excuse, like “well, I had financial help with this” or “but it only looks like this on paper, in reality it’s this” I want you to remind yourself that a.) most of the people who have inspired you probably feel like that and b.) that someone who wasn’t capable, smart and competent couldn’t have turned those advantages into a success story.

It’s time to start bigging ourselves up – if not to the rest of the world, then to ourselves. No more fear of being found out as an impostor – you’re exactly who you say you are. who’s with me? 

4 Comments on Do you have impostor syndrome?

  1. Shelley Richmond
    June 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm (5 years ago)

    I permanently feel like this, although I’m new to my chosen career I constantly look at other photographers and try to work out how long it’s taken them to get to where they are now and how far, comparatively, along on that scale I am. I constantly feel like everyone is better than me/ their work is better/ they have better equipment etc etc. The stupid thing is I’m so busy that I really don’t have time to be doing this but I just can’t help it. Nice to hear that it seems most people feel this way… thanks for always writing such inspiring & honest posts x

    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      June 26, 2014 at 8:46 am (5 years ago)

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Shelley! Comparison is the theif of joy, although it’s an almost impossible habit to break. If you’re too busy to be comparing yourself then you’re definitely doing something right! xxx

  2. Cate
    June 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm (5 years ago)

    Oh dear, I answered yes to every single one of those questions! I always have the fear of being found out that actually I haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about. I know it holds me back and stops me from writing about things I really want to write about. Not terribly helpful when you write for blogs and are trying to write a book. Glad to know that it is quite common though and that it actually has a name!
    I will definitely try your tip of writing down my achievements. I’ve heard it’s a good thing to do at New Year too, so you celebrate what you’ve done over the past year rather than making resolutions that you’ll never keep.

    • Sara - Darling Lovely Life editor
      June 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi Cate, lots of clever, high-achieving people have it. I can tell by the fact that your comment is very articulate that you count amongst that number. Keep on keeping on, you’re much more worthy than you could possibly know xxx


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