When the deep and challenging topic of mental health illnesses and disorders are discussed, Imposter Syndrome typically goes overlooked as a result of the lack of acknowledgement of these high levels of prevalence.
Imposter Syndrome is the persistent feeling of self doubt and unworthiness someone feels when thinking about their accomplishments, education and achievements. When struggling with this, no matter how many times others may recognize one’s achievements, the person with the syndrome will still feel incompetent and unworthy of everything they have done.
“It’s a terrible feeling,” Junior Emma Kate Rodrigue said. “Loved ones and friends are showering you with love and telling you how proud they are and all you can hear is your own thoughts telling you ‘they are lying’ or ‘you’re not worthy of this achievement.’”
There are five forms of this syndrome: The perfectionist, the natural genius, the rugged individualist (also known as soloist), the expert and the superhero. The first form, the perfectionist form of the syndrome, is based around one needing to perform every task perfectly, and when they can’t, they become angry with themselves and consider their accomplishments as failures. Since achieving this level of perfection is impossible, people who struggle with this form are never satisfied with their work. The second form, the natural genius, occurs when certain things may be second nature to someone, but when they cannot learn something immediately and master it, one becomes discouraged and feels like a failure. The inability to perform tasks with perfection and ease is quite common, but cannot be grasped by those with this disorder. The third, the rugged individualist (or the soloist), people who identify themselves as rugged individualists fly solo on all projects they pursue. When offered help or when they can’t do something themselves, they feel weak and inadequate deeming themselves a failure. The fourth, the expert, is when someone mainly focuses on gathering all the information and knowledge they can about a topic, and tend to spend the majority of their time focusing on this aspect of their work rather than the task itself. If they are asked a question about their work and they do not know it, they will often consider themselves a fake and become disappointed in themselves for not knowing every ounce of information. The fifth and final, the superhero, connects their ability to perform a task to their competence and feel as if succeeding in every role possible is the only correct way to succeed. In order to be successful, they will push themselves as hard as they can and if they cannot fill every role, they see themselves as a failure or incompetent.
“Depending on the student and their own personality and relationship we have would decide my approach,” Middle school guidance counselor Jason Frazier said. “I would talk to this student about their accomplishments with the intent of helping them see their own actions as positive work.”
There is no said cause of imposter syndrome but it tends to come down to insecurities and feelings of worthlessness sometimes acquired as a child. Though the feelings may be persistent and strong, there are ways to combat this. Some of the most common ways are to acknowledge the feelings the syndrome provokes, to build connections, challenge the thoughts of unworthiness and to try to stray from comparing yourself to other people. The feelings people may experience from Imposter Syndrome can be acknowledged by talking to trusted friends, loved ones and even therapists. Forming connections with people can help deal with the syndrome because when creating these bonds and connections with people one does not always have to put pressure on themselves and can receive help from others. Challenging the thoughts one may have can be extremely helpful and even get rid of those thoughts through providing the brain with evidence against why one’s negative thoughts are wrong. Lasty, refraining from comparing oneself to others can prevent further insecurities because nobody is the same and all experiences are different.
“If a friend ever came to me with this issue I would try and talk to them and help them realize that no matter how they are feeling, their effort will eventually pay off,” Junior Hannah Murphy said.
Although it might be easy to fall into the trap that negative thoughts and insecurities create, there is always a way to deal with them. Imposter Syndrome is a serious thing that many people deal with that can come in many different forms such as the perfectionist, the natural genius, the rugged individualist, the expert and the superhero. Each one of these forms are different, but all seem to bring up the same things, the feeling of worthlessness. There are several ways to combat these thoughts such as acknowledging the feelings the syndrome provokes, building connections, challenging thoughts and trying to avoid comparing oneself to other people. While this is a difficult thing to struggle from, there are always people to talk to and ways to deal with this.