Hey there, girl gang! It’s been a while.  

This is going to be more of an informative piece rather than a testimonial one. Because to be quite frank with you, I’m not in a place of feeling adequately equipped to offer advice about the topic at hand. However, what I do know is this: discovering there is a category for the things that we feel and realizing that we are not alone in feeling them can be extremely validating. 

That being said, today we are talking about a thing that goes by many nasty names: the Imposter Phenomenon/Experience/Syndrome. Whatever you decide to call it, it sucks. 

In Harvard Business Review, Gill Corkindale defines Imposter Syndrome as, “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” Individuals suffering from Imposterism likely experience one or several of the following:

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being exposed as fraudulent 
  • Attributing success to luck  
  • Downplaying achievements

TED-Ed has a really excellent YouTube video discussing Imposter Syndrome in greater detail, and I encourage you to check it out. In the video, Elizabeth Cox explains that unfortunately, feelings of imposterism are widespread and enormously prevalent-- indeed, almost universal. The first researchers to introduce the term “Imposter Phenomenon,” Pauline Rose Clance and her colleague, Suzanne Imes, found that people of every age, race, occupation, and gender fall victim to feelings such as these. 

The Imposter Syndrome tends to appear more frequently among ladies than guys. And another thing to note, (considering GRIT exists to empower women in a university setting) is that female college students and/or women with careers in academia are particularly at risk for feelings of imposterism. And though it is a relatively common phenomenon, it disproportionately affects people from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups, such as those with intellectual or physical disabilities or members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

So what do we do about it? 

Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure yet. But what I do know, is that having the vocabulary with which to speak about the things we feel can be super helpful in all of our journeys. For that reason, I hope this post is validating to those who experience feelings of imposterism. Also, talk about the way you feel with those you trust! Considering how ridiculously common this experience is among college students, it’s so likely that your neighbor is going through something similar.

In addition to those things, something I have been trying to do (thanks to the help and guidance of some amazing professors and mentors) is to weigh the things I feel with the rest of reality. JP Moreland talks about how often there is a disconnect between the things we say to ourselves about ourselves, and how the world really is. Maybe recognizing this is the first step to significant healing. 

You are so loved. And it might not help hearing it from me, but you totally deserve to be here. Press on.