It has many names but "imposter syndrome" is the most well known. It means feeling like you are not as capable as other people and worrying that someone may find this out. It is not dependent on your level of success or the number of wins at work. It is not dependent on how happy your children are or the high esteem others may have for you.
In other words, no matter what you have done that is right, you are always focused on not being enough and waiting for the shoe to drop when other's figure out what you know... you are just an imposter.
While there is no one type of person who experiences imposter syndrome, there is a likely pattern.
What may start as "healthy nervousness" takes on a life of it's own that eats away at your confidence, belief in your expertise, drive, and self-compassion.
Two female psychologists, Drs. Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, coined the term "imposter syndrome" in 1978, where they noted "despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist in believing that they are rally not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise."
So what is troublesome about the term "imposter syndrome?" Just say it in your mind (or out loud if you want). Imposter syndrome. Ick. It gives a clinical weight to something that is not a medical or mental health diagnosis. It is just something that happens. In fact, it is just one of many things that happen to a woman over the course of a day. The original term "phenomenon" is much more accurate and better acknowledges the role of society and work culture in the experience.
Imposter phenomenon is tied to ideas that women have taken on due to societal and cultural norms. We feel like imposters in systems that were not designed for us. Does it make you an imposter when the system around you is antiquated, bias, racist, hyper-masculine, heteronormative, or not concerned with work/life integration? You are not broken and why would you want to pretend to be someone else in a broken system?
The answer lies in accepting what you bring to the table, aligning with your values, and stepping into a place that feels authentic and powerful.
What do "bicycle face" and "imposter syndrome" have in common?