Have you ever felt like a fraud? - The Imposter Syndrome

Shreyash Purankar S.Y. CSE

“Fake it till you make it”, this is the phrase I

have been hearing again and again in my life.

Everyone uses this phrase to survive in the real

world, I do too. But is faking always okay?

Studying for a professional field is a tough

job. Sometimes you have your lows and

sometimes your highs. One such day, I did

extremely good at the work assigned to me by

my teachers, for a moment I felt great on doing

a good job and felt great about myself as any

other person does when they gain appreciation

from others and suddenly I had this strange

feeling and started questioning my inner self “

Am I actually doing something worthwhile for

myself? Am I in the right direction career-wise

or life-wise? Am I making the right choices in

my life? Am I faking it to the point where I going

feel like a fraud?”, I nearly had a panic attack

asking these questions to myself. Thoughts

roared. My worth quaked. I wanted to run and

hide. I began to question how worthwhile my

existing in this world was, how sincere my faith

stood. The feelings pounded with force. I

wanted to know what was happening with me,

why was I suddenly questioning my way of life.

So as usual, like all of us often do, I googled

what was happening to me and what I found

was...

I was having the impostor syndrome.

Looking at the words it does sound like

something dangerous but trust me it is nothing

that we can’t tackle in life.

Essentially, imposter syndrome is the belief

that others will find out that we’re frauds, or

we’re fake, or we somehow accidentally won

that ribbon or achieved something merely byluck. It’s a classic case of “comparing your

insides with other people’s outsides”. When I

researched the syndrome more I found out that

this syndrome was very common amongst

people, almost 76% of the world’s population

had it. Studies also showed that introverts are

more likely to have impostor syndrome than the

extroverts. Introverts, especially those of an

intuitive persuasion commonly exhibit a

penchant for personal authenticity. They strive

to “know themselves”—their beliefs, values,

strengths, interests, etc — and to live by that

self-understanding. In the words of Elaine

Schallock, they take an “inside-out” approach

to life looking for ways of meaningfully

expressing their elaborate inner life.

For the extrovert, authenticity means

remaining loyal and true to certain external

realities (e.g., popular ideas or trends)—the

precise opposite of the introverted version.

Extroverts are also apt to grant more

credence to outside opinions or feedback. If

praised for doing a good job, they are more likely

to accept and internalize this feedback than the

introvert is. Might extroverts, therefore, be less

susceptible to impostor syndrome? Introverts,

on the other hand, tend to be their own worst

critics. Inclined to distrust externalities, they

often downplay or ignore external feedback,

regardless of how positive or effusive.

Even if we recognize that we have certain

valuable skills or that we are, on average, more

qualified than others, we may still be rather

anxious about attracting additional attention by

accepting the spotlight that comes with

achievements. We may not want the public

acclaim or the different responsibilities,

especially if they come with fewer opportunities

for quiet time and requirements to be more “out

there.

These emotions behind impostor syndrome

may turn out to be quite dangerous and even

self-sabotaging. They can lead to anxiety and

even depression.

And that’s when it clicked that me being an

introvert, I often doubted myself on my

achievements or whenever I did a good job I

always questioned my worth. I have always

been less prone to feedback. I rarely ask for

feedback on my work and that is where I go

wrong and question my capabilities. I have

always had such doubts but at that moment I

was openly accepting these doubts and thinking

about these questions.

Now that I knew what was happening to me,

I wanted to learn how to overcome this and I

found out some of these personal remedies

suggested by an article on impostor syndrome

in “The Guardian” and it helped me a great deal-

Recall positive accomplishments and

feedback—these will help shift focus to your

strengths and abilities, to relive your victories,

and to make you feel in control over your

outcomes. Allow yourself to feel pride.

Take ownership of your successes—

actualized individuals (think Bill Gates, J.K.

Rowling, and Warren Buffet) didn’t get where

they are by chance. They are all unique and

talented and worked hard for their successes.And not despite—but because of—their

introversion, they became the thinkers,

innovators, and the shapers of tomorrow. So

give yourself some credit.

Build a strong support system—surround

yourself with similar others (i.e., professionals

who are also introverts) to exchange

experiences and opinions. Knowing that you

may not be alone in your feelings can give you

strength, help you see yourself more objectively

through the eyes of fellow peers, and bring back

the confidence in your own intelligence and

competencies. In other words, go find some

good friends.

Remember that, although slowly, the world

is changing—introverts nowadays are less and

less willing to pretend to be extroverts just to

be accepted. We feel more gratified and

comfortable being in our own shells. Such

positive emotions will work to diminish the

perceived lack of authenticity.

Finally, know that you are worth it— Don’t let

opportunities slip away if they are the right fit

for you. At the end of the day, we all belong

exactly where our ambitions, motivation,

persistence, and skills take us. These are also

some of the quiet powers that are woven into

the fabric of our very characters as introverts.

So, whenever you have self-doubts, know that

you are worth it and stop questioning yourself,

just remember to breathe and have peace with

yourself.