Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.
If you’ve ever felt like an imposter at work, you’re not alone. A 2019 reviewTrusted Source of 62 studies on imposter syndrome suggested anywhere from 9 to 82 percent of people report having thoughts along these lines at some point.
Early research exploring this phenomenon primarily focused on accomplished, successful women. It later became clear, though, that imposter syndrome can affect anyone in any profession, from graduate students to top executives.
Imposter feelings represent a conflict between your own self-perception and the way others perceive you.
Even as others praise your talents, you write off your successes to timing and good luck. You don’t believe you earned them on your own merits, and you fear others will eventually realize the same thing.
Any recognition you earn? You call it sympathy or pity. And despite linking your accomplishments to chance, you take on all the blame for any mistakes you make. Even minor errors reinforce your belief in your lack of intelligence and ability.
Over time, this can fuel a cycle of anxiety, depression, and cult.
Living in constant fear of discovery, you strive for perfection in everything you do. You might feel guilty or worthless when you can’t achieve it, not to mention burned out and overwhelmed by your continued efforts.
You might develop imposter feelings if your parents:
- pressured you to do well in school
- compared you to your sibling(s)
- were controlling or overprotective
- emphasized your natural intelligence
- sharply criticized mistakes
If you are experiencing these feelings, don’t underrate them! Talk about them with a therapist.