I always thought I was a perfectionist, but now I wonder. It is funny how one conversation can change the trajectory of your thought process. The other day I was Vibin’ with therapist Whitley Grant, and she began talking about imposter syndrome. The more she talked, the more I realized:
- I am going to find a good therapist when I transition to Chapel Hill.
- The thing I have been calling perfectionism all of these years just might be imposter syndrome.
Of course, I did like I always do after walking away from a conversation that has my curiosity peaked. I took to Google! LOL! And read everything I could find on imposter syndrome. I even took a few of those online imposter syndrome test. Anywho, enough about me. You know I desperately want to share a little of what I learned.
What is imposter syndrome
- the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
According to an article in the Very Well Mind, some of the common signs of imposter syndrome are:
- An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
- Attributing your success to external factors
- Berating your performance
- Fear that you won’t live up to expectations
- Sabotaging your own success
- Setting very challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short2
In The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, author Valerie Young identified different types of imposter syndrome:
- The perfectionist is never satisfied and always feel that their work could be better.
- The superhero feels compelled to push themselves to work as hard as possible because they are never satisfied with their work.
- The expert is always trying to learn more and is never satisfied with their level of understanding.
- The natural genius sets excessively lofty goals for themselves, and then feel crushed when they don’t succeed on their first try.
- The soloist tends to be very individualistic and prefers to work alone because they see asking for help as a sign of weakness or incompetence.
For those of that have read this and are now panic stricken, thinking you need extensive therapy, relax. It seems high achieving, highly successful people often suffer from imposter syndrome. In this Ted Talk, Michael Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and co-CEO of the software company Atlassian and Australian billionaire, talks about using imposter syndrome to your benefit. Despite having imposter syndrome, I would argue that he has done well for himself!
P.S. Be sure to check out my full conversation with therapist Whitley Grant on my podcast, Vibin’ With Tonza. Her episode airs tomorrow.