The Impostor Syndrome and Staying Hungry

First let me explain what impostor syndrome is. An article on Time.com poses the question, “Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like your friends or colleagues are going to discover you’re a fraud, and you don’t actually deserve your job and accomplishments?” The article goes on to say that 70% of individuals feel this at some point in their lives. Most people are afraid to admit this because they assume that if people find out, they may not continue to give them the same opportunities or look at them in the same way. Because I know that so many others feel or have felt this, I’m not afraid to admit it. I have felt like an impostor on many occasions. I also know that I shouldn’t feel this way. I’ve worked very hard to reach my various goals and my level of expertise, but still I have those doubts. I’m sure there are reasons that so many of us feel this. For me, maybe it was growing up as the third of eight kids. Maybe I felt I had to work hard to get out from under my older siblings’ shadows. Who knows? I don’t need to know why.

Recently, in a book that I was reading, the author made a point that there was an upside to suffering from impostor syndrome. That is, because somehow we don’t feel we’ve earned our success, we end up working extra hard to make sure that we get it right. I feel that’s very true. We need to feel that we’ve put in at least as much if not more than anyone else to prove our right to be where we are. Rarely are we satisfied, and that is a strength. In talking about his climb to success, Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that, “I always stay hungry, never satisfied with current accomplishments.” and I believe that is us, too. I’m my own worst critic and it keeps me on my toes and always trying to do better.

If you are one of the many that suffer from impostor syndrome, know that you’re not alone… far from it. Know that it can be an asset and help you attain even more success, if you let it. So, stay hungry, keep getting better, accept your achievements (because you deserve them) and move on to the next challenge. Best wishes going forward!

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