Have you ever wondered if you are truly deserving of your position? Whether it’s an internship, your college major, or a full-time job, it’s easy to think that you got where you are because of luck.
While those voices in your head may be telling you that you’re not good enough, we’re here to tell you that you are. Blogger @happyhippiegirlboss and I are here today to share some of our experiences with imposter syndrome, and hopefully we’ll be able to examine why we have felt this way and how we can address this issue in the future.Embed from Getty Images
I have felt imposter syndrome for as long as I could remember, but it wasn’t until influencer Katy Belottee did a podcast episode about this topic that I was able to put a name to that feeling. Belotte is one of my biggest role models, a New York City queen who did freelance creative work, wears pretty dresses, and shares her amazing experiences with the world. She discusses topics that many other influences usually shy away from, and I have looked up to her for a few years now. While she now lives in LA, I still aspire to be like Katy. When she said she feels imposter syndrome, I was shocked. In my mind, Katy is one of the most successful influencers I know. I wonder how someone as successful as her can feel imposter syndrome.
Merriam Webster just added the term Imposter Syndrome to the dictionary in April of 2020, but it’s been around since 1978 from the journal Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice. At the time, the article focused on women, and while now we know that men and women are both as likely to feel this sensation of getting achievements solely because of luck or fraud rather than hard work and talent, I found it very interesting that women were the ones originally sited with this.
So, let’s break this down. After reading the abstract from the journal, I got the impression that only women were tested for imposter syndrome in this 1978 experiment. They did this because of a test from 1976 that showed how different genders reacted to the attributing process.
I love talking about the patriarchy and how to break it, and I think imposter syndrome being assumed of only women is the work of the patriarchy. Women were taught that they were not good enough, they were not deserving of opportunities, and if they achieved them it was because of luck, not their internal talents and work ethic. That is a way men can minimize women in the workplace by making them feel like they don’t belong there. Men told women for years that she did not belong in the office, so when she finally made it she felt like it was just luck. Her subconscious still believed that she didn’t belong.
So we need to fix this. Last week in class we went on a few tangents (of course they were still about patriarchy and feminism, but we did drift from our discussion questions). That is one of the things I love about this class, we are always learning from each other. We talked about how the education system needs to be reformed in order to teach young children inclusive values. We need to defeat imposter syndrome at its roots, and teach students, especially young girls, that they are smart and they are deserving of being here.
Do you face imposter syndrome? So do I. Acknowledging it is half of the battle. Realizing you have something to fix is hard, but once you know you have imposter syndrome, you can work to change it. My recommendation is to say affirmations. Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself you are smart, beautiful, funny. I have post-it notes stuck to my mirror that I say whenever I look at myself in the mirror, and it really helps me with my confidence.
Please remember, you do deserve to be here! You worked hard to get to where you are today, and it’s not luck or fraud. You are so deserving and so talented. Please never forget that.
From a very young age, I struggled with imposter syndrome. In second grade, I passed a test that got me into the GATE (gifted and talented education) program. I don’t think the program should be a thing, but that’s a topic for another day.
We were basically separated into different “gifted” classes that had a slightly different curriculum than other classes. I was in the program from third grade all the way up through eighth grade, but I never really felt like I was supposed to be there.
I didn’t enjoy doing any of the things that the other kids did: reading, playing instruments, poetry, etc. I constantly found myself questioning whether I just passed the test because of luck, and I absolutely hated school because of it. I always felt slower than my classmates, and I would even stay home some days just to get out of assignments.
I felt like there was a certain standard I had to be at in that program, and when I didn’t make it, I would tear myself apart. Some days I worked 2x harder and still felt behind compared to my classmates.
I have a vivid memory from eighth grade when we were doing a review game for the standardized test that was coming up. I said the wrong answer and the whole class freaked out, they jumped out of their seats and basically started screaming at me for getting it wrong. I felt terrible later that day and was questioning why I should even try at school anymore.
The next week after our test, my teacher stood in front of the whole class and said that I was the only person to get a perfect score on the test. That was the moment I realized that I was smarter and stronger than I thought all of those years before. That was the moment when I knew I was at the place in my life because of my strengths and abilities, not because I got lucky on a test.
So, from that day on I worked hard and pushed myself to the potential that I knew was there all along.
The spaces we are in can convince us that we are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not white enough, not masculine enough, not feminine enough, but I want you to wake up every day and scream this while you’re looking in the mirror: I am enough! I am here today because I deserve it!
The patriarchy plays a huge role here. I felt a level of insecurity in school because I was always up against my male peers, and they put me down because of the role of patriarchy in the education system. I was seen as “lesser” to them, and that made my mistakes carry more weight than theirs.
While the patriarchy plays a role in our education system, so does racism. Black women face an additional layer of obstacles because of the intersection of race and gender within these spaces. I do experience imposter syndrome, but I acknowledge the fact that it doesn’t compare to the level that Black women may face it.
As Brittney Cooper says in Eloquent Rage, “..You have to work twice as hard to get half as far. Black women and girls are forced to navigate the unreasonably high expectations that go along with proverbs like this throughout their lives.” (p. 60).
You are completely and absolutely 100% at the place you are now because of your abilities and strengths, NEVER forget that. It’s easy to convince yourself that you are not deserving of your position in life, but YOU DID IT!! You put in the work, you worked your ass off to get where you are today, and most importantly, you are NOT an imposter!
Photography credits: This week’s featured header image is from local artist, Jason Starr. Jason is a fine art and fashion photographer based out of Virginia and Pennsylvania. Jason’s work is a reflection of life experiences, observations, and perceptions of the world. For more information, you can check out Jason’s website or Instagram @jasoncstarr. For inquiries, contact Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org.