Have you ever worried that you don't deserve the opportunities you have? Or that it was a stroke of luck, and not your hard work, that landed you where you are today? Ever feel like the people around you are one slip-up away from realizing you're not as wonderful as they think you are? If these fears ring true for you, you may be suffering from impostor syndrome.
You might be wondering: what is impostor syndrome? Basically, it's that gnawing voice in the back of your head that makes you question your abilities and self-worth. It can be super damaging for anyone to experience, but women tend to experience it disproportionately. When people suffer from impostor syndrome, it can bleed into how we function in our jobs, relationships, and the way we view ourselves: If we feel unworthy (like an "impostor" in our role), the related insecurities can feel like they're eating us alive.
Curious if you suffer from impostor syndrome? Luckily, the people over at Science of Us have a quiz to tell you if you suffer from impostor syndrome. Of course, always take an online quiz with a grain of salt, because the Internet can't diagnose you or give you feedback like a mental health professional would. Still, I think quizzes like these are a great way to get more perspective and delve a little deeper into some things we may want to avoid in our day-to-day thinking.
This quiz does have scientifically-backed merit, though; Science of Us actually based it off of a scale created by psychologist Pauline Clance, who basically coined the term "imposter syndrome" back in the 1950s. Since then, she's done a ton of research on the topic and came up with a scale for measuring impostor syndrome. The quiz at Science of Us is a shortened, adapted version of Clance's original scale.
I gave the quiz a test myself; here's how it went. You can take the full quiz yourself at Science of Us.
When I started this quiz, I figured at least some of the questions would resonate strongly with me, and this is definitely one of them. I think it's partially social conditioning that women often feel uncomfortable accepting compliments or praise (I think we all, at some point, fear being labeled as "narcissistic" or "full of ourselves") and partially (for me) a degree of imposter's syndrome.
For people with imposter's syndrome, there's generally a deep sense that they haven't truly "earned" their success (whether it's a career, a relationship, a fellowship, etc.), and that instead of through hard work or merit, their opportunities sort of fall into their lap. Personally, this one doesn't ring as true for me, because I know how much hard work I've put into getting where I am today. However, on days where I'm feeling insecure, I can totally see myself answering this question differently.
For me, this one connects to the earlier question about accepting compliments: I have a hard time accepting praise from others. My gut reaction is to make it seem like it's not a "big deal," even if it's something I've legitimately worked hard on. I see this happen with my female peers, as well, so I do think this goes back to social conditioning, at least in part.
For me, this one also ties into being a perfectionist, in that even if something goes well, I always see room for improvement. As Jesse Singal at Science of Us explains, "Perfectionism, too, seems to be a correlate of IP — people who feel they need to do everything perfectly are more likely to feel fraudulent when they can’t achieve this impossible standard," which definitely rings true for me.
This one is totally true for me, too. Even when I was a kid, if I received good news, I was reluctant to tell anyone until I found out it was definitely going to happen. I think this is partially a result of the idea that you shouldn't count your proverbial chickens before they hatch, but also a fear that that someone is going to change their mind or "take back" the recognition... which is where impostor syndrome comes in.
So after all was said and done, how did I do? I got a "moderate" level of impostor syndrome. For me, I think this is something that likely changes based on my overall stress level and how secure I feel in what I'm doing that particular day.
For example, on days my perfectionism is in high gear or I'm feeling particularly anxious, I can see my impostor syndrome results going through the roof. Singal backs this theory up, explaining, "There’s some evidence of a moderate correlation between anxiety and IP and a strong correlation between neuroticism and IP. The sort of people who worry about stuff in general, then, are more likely to fall victim to impostor concerns." On the average day, though, I feel like the "moderate" (or even low!) ranking is a good evaluation.
While impostor syndrome itself is not an official diagnosis, it's often linked with other mental illness, so if you feel like it inhibits or impacts your daily life, it's always a good idea to talk to a professional about ways to combat impostor's syndrome. You deserve happiness and health. Always.
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