How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

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Do you frequently question your abilities and wonder if you’re good enough or smart enough? Do you feel like a fraud and worry that people will find out who you “really” are? Do you diminish and dismiss your accomplishments? Do you constantly compare yourself to others and feel like everyone else is more qualified than you? If you answered yes to some of these questions you may be experiencing imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome involves feeling like a fake or fraud despite evidence of high achievement and accomplishment. Even though you’ve earned a degree and are progressing through graduate school, or receive praise for your work, you question your abilities. Imposter syndrome also involves worrying that you got into an academic program or got a job by mistake, and ›feeling like you are fooling people into thinking you are smart. Overall, people who experience imposter syndrome feel that they are not good enough.

Imposter syndrome may be even more challenging for people of color because stereotype threat may exacerbate it. Stereotype threat is the stress that results from worrying that you will confirm negative stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of people from your gender, racial, or ethnic group. The combination of imposter syndrome and stereotype threat can negatively effect your performance on tasks that you would be able to do well without this additional stress. Additionally, people of color may wonder if they were admitted to an academic program or got a job because of token diversity initiatives. This can increase insecurities about whether or not you really belong in a workplace or academic setting. Further, people from marginalized groups often navigate challenging racial, cultural and gender dynamics, as well as microaggressions, which can further exacerbate imposter syndrome.

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