Feeling like a fraud?

Ever wondered if the people you work with will find out you're a fraud and that you don't belong there? Even though you have the qualifications and are good at your job, are you are convinced  that the only reason why you got the job you was because of luck or mistake; that one day someone will see you as the fraud you really are? 

It is not the question of whether you are lacking certain skills, it is more wondering whether you belong there at all. It is like being thrown in the deep end of the pool and needing to swim. It is not a question whether you would survive, but questioning, Can I even  swim?

You are not alone.

Sandy Sandberg, Emma Watson, Jodie Foster, even Meryl Streep have all had these feelings!


 One of the greatest actors in her field also struggles with self - doubt.


The list of people who are afraid of being uncovered as an imposter  is as impressive as it is long. These feelings of not being good enough is so common that it even has a name - Imposter phenomenon  or Imposter  Syndrome. It was first coined in the 1970s by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. In their original study they focused on high achieving women, but by no means is it limited to women. Both men and women experience it alike (Clance & Imes, 1978; Sakulku & Alexander, 2011). Researchers believe that up to 70% of people have suffered from it at some point (Sakulku & Alexander, 2011), myself included. 

Even though imposter phenomenon is not an official diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, psychologists and others acknowledge it as very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Imposter feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and depression.


Strategies to overcome imposter feelings:


1. Own it! Be Confident.  Recognize that you had a role in your success. Give yourself kudos! Even if you had a bit of luck or had help from others, give credit were credit is due. Don't forget to give yourself credit. YOU did it and deserve praise.  Try writing a list of all the things you have accomplished over the last 5 years and you will see how well deserved you really are.

2. Remember you are not alone. If you have these feelings, realize that you are not the only one.  We have all experienced feeling of not being good enough. If Meryl Streep can have the feeling of not being good enough, and go on to win 3 Oscars and build an amazing career, so can you!

3. Re-assess your standards. Admit that you do not know everything and that you don't need to know everything. And that giving your best is not the same as being the best. 

4. Talk to someone.  Most of us felt like fraudsters at some point in our lives and sometimes we just need a pep talk. When you’re feeling down about yourself, talk to someone. Be willing to accept their encouragement and don’t just tell yourself that they’re just being nice!  Accept what they say and live by it.


Have you ever experienced feelings of doubt that you did not belong ? What tips do you have to overcome it? Share with us in the comments!




Clance, P. R., & Imes, S. A. (1978). The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 15(3), 241.

Kaplan, K. (2009). Unmasking the impostor. Nature, 459(7245), 468–469. http://doi.org/10.1038/nj7245-468a

Sakulku, J., & Alexander, J. (2011). The impostor phenomenon. International Journal of Behavioral Science, 6(1), 73–92.

Imposter Syndrome | AstroWright. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sites.psu.edu/astrowright/2015/06/02/imposter-syndrome/