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The Science Behind: Impostor Syndrome

“Why did they pick me?”

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“I’m not good enough.”

If you’ve thought these things before, chances are you’ve been a victim of impostor syndrome. Don’t worry, it happens to a lot of people. But what exactly is impostor syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is when you doubt your abilities. It means when you are given a prestigious opportunity or put in a leadership role, you start thinking that you don’t have the skills or the credibility to go through with the role. For example, maybe you won the student body election at school but are now doubting yourself and wondering why people voted for you. This is impostor syndrome. Essentially, it is the idea that the only reason you came this far was through a stroke of luck and not because you actually put in the effort.

So why do we experience impostor syndrome? There’s no single reason. People could experience impostor syndrome because of past experiences, such as maybe messing up in a leadership role, causing them to doubt their ability to do it again. Another possible reason is stereotypes, or even just feeling out of place. An expert on impostor syndrome, Valerie Young, says that feeling like you belong can make you feel confident. She says, “the more people who look or sound like you, the more confident you feel.”

Finally, how do we combat impostor syndrome? Since it affects your perception of success, such as feeling like you aren’t good enough to do the assigned task, you need to be able to recognize that you do deserve what your brain thinks you don’t. Try taking a moment to just think about all you have accomplished, or talk to someone close to you that can offer you advice and validation on your efforts and successes.

Overall, just know that impostor syndrome affects the best of us. Even if you aren’t confident in your abilities to do something, just believe in yourself (old advice, I know, but it’s true!), and you can do anything.


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