How many times have you ever just doubted yourself and your capabilities? Thought that you passed your exams merely on luck, and not because you spent sleepless nights studying? Thought that the job promotion should’ve been for your colleague because they work hard, not considering how hard you work? How many times have you thought negative things about yourself, because you thought you were a fraud?
I, for one, have had many of these thoughts. And for a long time, I thought they were normal, until on Monday (13th May, 2019), when I was taught of the Impostor Syndrome during Ulala Kandeya’s presentation on “Leadership.”
Impostor Syndrome (aka Fraud Syndrome): a belief that you are inadequate and a incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful. Often caused by personal background, personality etc.
The impostor/ fraud syndrome makes one believe that they will be unmasked as fraudulent regardless of them earning their spot.
In July 2017, I attended the first National Youth Peace Forum conference that was taking place at the Malawi Sun Hotel. Going into the conference, I kept beating myself that I should never have been there. The reason was, the Forum had invited Presidents and their Vices from different University Student Bodies, I on the other hand, was mere the Publicity Secretary at mine. However, due to the President’s tight schedule, I had been requested to go.
At the end of the day, I had been voted as the Vice Chair of the NYPF University Chapter, something I still thought I shouldn’t have gotten. I felt that I was taking away someone else’s opportunity, that it actually wasn’t mine.
We have these thoughts most times, thoughts that make us doubt us. But unfortunately, we mostly don’t know that we have the syndrome.
Reading through Young’s work yesterday made me realize that these groups of people are more likely to have the syndrome:
- Perfectionists: they mostly have a fear for failure, hence every time that they actually fail, they start to doubt how good they are at doing things.
- Super humans: these believe in working harder than those around them to prove that they are not impostors. They will go to work before time and leave after everyone has gone home. They will work, even after completing the day’s tasks.
- Natural geniuses: those that mostly think they are natural geniuses that they do not need to put too much effort to work on things, be it their work or school. Once they taste failure, they start to second-guess themselves and their intelligence.
- Soloist: Those that believe they are able to do things on their own without help from other people. They are very independent but unfortunately fail to realize how far their independence goes, and when to actually trust and depend on other people to reach success.
- Experts: these are people that have worked so hard to gain their education background but mostly lower their own qualifications when in the presence of others.
These are all just negative thoughts we have on ourselves, because we mostly think we are FRAUDS that have been able to achieve everything based on luck. It is that sneaky voice inside you that continuously makes you question yourself, whether you are really capable.
How many of us have looked at a job vacancy, but stopped the thought of application just because we couldn’t tick on one of the skills? I have too, many times.
How to deal with it? I will explain this in the next blog post. For now, please comment with your own experiences and how you have dealt with the syndrome, it really would be helpful.
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