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Imposter Syndrome also known as perceived fraudulence is the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved. It involves self-doubt, uncertainty about a person’s talents and abilities, and a sense of unworthiness that doesn’t align with how others perceive or think of them. IS is most common during a transition or when trying new things. This feeling persists despite one’s education, experience, or accomplishments.


Types of IS

  • The perfectionists: these are people that set excessively high goals for themselves and then experience self-doubt and become sad about not measuring up. They unconsciously control people, having that feeling of getting things done no matter and to get it right, they have to do it themselves. They have difficulty delegating and when they do, they are usually frustrated or disappointed in the results.
  • The natural genius: these people judge their competence and success on how easy and quick they finish a task, this means that when they take time to finish a given task, they become frustrated and feel ashamed. Just like the perfectionists, these people set their bar impossibly high, but unlike the perfectionists, they do not judge themselves based on ridiculous expectations, they judge based on how easy and quick they get things right the first time
  • The rugged soloist: these sets of people are so independent, that they feel asking others for help makes them weak, they feel accomplishing things on their own is paramount, and they refuse any form of assistance from anybody just to prove their worth.
  • The expert: these people measure their competence based on what they know. They believe they will never know enough, fearing being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable. They shy away from applying to jobs except they meet all the requirements, and shudder when someone calls them an expert.
  • The superhero: these set of people believe they are phonies amongst the real deal people, they push themselves to work harder and harder just to measure up. Most times, it’s just a false cover-up for their insecurities.

Causes of IS

  • Personality traits: one of the causes of IS is personality traits, certain personality traits have been linked to having the highest risk of experiencing imposter syndrome, some of these are low self-efficacy, perfectionism, neuroticism, and so on. Having these traits makes it possible to get the imposter syndrome.
  • Parenting and childhood: people that come from a highly valued, achievement-seeking background, who flip back and forth between receiving praises and being criticized are more open to imposter syndrome. They are always trying to be successful no matter what, having that fear of being criticized by their parents or peers.
  • Starting a new role/career: starting a new role or career path can bring about imposter syndrome. People that are starting a new role will have that feeling of being better than the former occupant or being successful in their new chosen career. These can make them conscious of everything, to the extent of becoming perfectionists in everything.

Solutions to IS

  • Acknowledge your feelings
  • Challenge your doubts
  • Build your network
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others
  • Let go of perfectionism
  • Celebrate your success


Imposter syndrome has not been fully recognized as a disorder by the diagnostic and statistical manual disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) but it’s advised to always visit a therapist whenever you start experiencing the symptoms of an imposter syndrome.

– Lillian Elijah

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