Why We Feel Like Imposters (and What This Means for Women’s Liberation)

Imposter Syndrome is an equal opportunity oppressor, afflicting people of all identities and backgrounds. That said, women are more vulnerable to it, especially those who are high-achievers, which I am assuming you are.

Due to stereotypes and other societal nonsense, our competence and intelligence are routinely questioned and there are higher expectations for our performance. Mistakenly believing that we aren’t good enough, we work hard to compensate for our imagined weaknesses. And the fact that we work so hard only reinforces our feelings of being an imposter because if we were truly talented, everything would be easy.

Image from Feminist Fight Club @saskdraws

This adds up to making Imposter Syndrome a very bad thing, unless we can flip it on its head using one of four strategies:

  1. Celebrate your imposter status – As a woman succeeding in a male-designed world, you are a revolutionary, dismantling the patriarchy from the inside. Like Alexander Hamilton, you deserve a musical all to yourself.
  2. Create community with other imposters – Frauds hide their true identity and never admit their falsehoods, which is why you must do the opposite. Share your fears with other women and you’ll be surprised to find out that they, too, feel the same way.
  3. Apply the 50% Rule to find the real imposters – Women make up 50% of the population, earn more degrees than men, etc. So it follows that if more than 50% of the people in the room are male, then someone doesn’t belong here. And it’s not you.
  4. Remember what got you here will get you there – Short-circuit Imposter Syndrome by focusing on your values and strengths rather than your achievements. Your values and strengths are your true self and less susceptible to Imposter Syndrome.

In this week’s Zoom talk show, we’ll explore the root causes of Imposter Syndrome and triggers that cause it to flare up for women. I’ll discuss in more detail the four strategies and walk you through a Life Map exercise that will get you focused on your values and strengths.

Ready to get started? Grab your journal for the activity and let’s go!


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