The Real Reason You're Experiencing Imposter Syndrome

If you've ever walked into a job interview and thought, "These people are going to realize that I don't belong here" — despite the fact that you are qualified for the job you are seeking — you are likely suffering from imposter syndrome. According to the Cleveland Clinic, imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that occurs when you have a false belief that you aren't as accomplished, smart, or great as everyone else seems to think you are. On paper, you are just as accomplished and capable as the person sitting next to you, but imposter syndrome will tell you that you're just a big fraud and, eventually, your peers, bosses, and people you love will realize that you're just an imposter. "It's the feeling that everyone else knows exactly what they're doing, but you feel lost," psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, told the Cleveland Clinic. "You have this fear that the people around you are going to figure out that you don't know what you're talking about and expose you as a fraud."

The Muse reports that at least five types of imposter syndrome exist: The perfectionist, who is always busy setting goals and never feel like they measure up to these goals; the superman or superwoman, who is often working harder than everyone else around them to simply feel like they measure up to their peers; the natural genius, who is especially hard on themselves if they don't get it right the first time; the soloist, who refuses to ask for help; and the expert, who feels as though they will never know enough.

A number of factors could be contributing to your version of imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome could present as early as your childhood. According to Healthline, constant pressure from your parents to do well in school and being heavily criticized when you did not reach these lofty goals could be contributing to your current bout of imposter syndrome. As previously mentioned, certain personality traits, like perfectionism, could also lead to imposter syndrome. Those who struggle with depression and anxiety could also be at a heightened risk of developing imposter syndrome, given the fact that they are already prone to having low self-esteem and, generally speaking, a rather negative view of themselves.

There are several ways to combat imposter syndrome. For starters, do your best to separate feelings from facts. Though you may feel as though you don't measure up to your co-workers, is this actually true if you compare your accomplishments to theirs? Celebrating each of your accomplishments, no matter how small, could also combat that voice in your head telling you that you aren't good enough, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

If you're still struggling to overcome imposter syndrome, perhaps it's time to talk to a therapist who can give you personalized exercises to increase your self-worth. "Action really helps overcome this," psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, told the Cleveland Clinic. "It's about not getting stuck in the thought of 'I can't do this,' but making sure that you take action and move forward."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.