Impostor syndrome is the internalized belief that your success is due to luck or other external factors rather than your own skills, talent, intelligence, and/or qualifications. This false idea leaves you with a perpetual feeling of being a poser under constant threat and fear of being exposed as a fraud. It can lead to lingering feelings of insecurity, anxiousness, and stress, and it can intensify feelings of lower self-confidence and disbelief in your own abilities despite the achievements you may have accomplished that prove otherwise.
Impostor syndrome, also known as “the impostor phenomenon,” was first introduced in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP, and Suzanne Imes, Ph.D. Their research found a prevalent pattern among accomplished, professional, high-achieving women of dismissing their achievements, over-attributing their successes to luck, and devaluing their own skills and intelligence while simultaneously believing that others were overestimating their talents.
Impostor syndrome is essentially a subconscious way of saying to yourself and others that “I am not enough” or “I am unworthy,” and that you’re somehow undeserving of the awards, accolades, and recognition you’ve received. Even worse than the feeling of unworthiness is the guilt you carry about deceiving others into thinking you’re smarter and more competent than you believe yourself to be and fear that someone will find out and expose you and your “lies.”