Don’t be surprised if the impostor syndrome hits you at some point in your life. It affects 70% of the population, particularly people who are high achievers. It also comes in a handful of discouraging varieties, five of which are outlined by Valerie Young, a leading impostor syndrome expert.
Should The Perfectionist, The Expert, The Soloist, The Natural Genius, or The Superhuman cause you to seriously reconsider offering your talents, just remember you’re in good company. These amazing humans have had the same struggle and still chosen to offer their gifts to us all.
Even the Best of Us Aren’t Immune
Albert Einstein: He won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanations of the photoelectric effect. What would the world be like without his work? His theories made solar cells, TV cameras, and aspects of all digital and video cameras possible, among other things. It is also foundational to our understanding of black holes, collapsed stars, and the Universe itself! But he offered it to us in the face of self-doubt. He admitted that, “The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
Maya Angelou: She was the first female inaugural poet in U.S. presidential history. She was the first Black woman to write a screenplay for a major film release. And of course, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and considered one of the most influential books of modern time. Yet Dr. Angelou shared, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.”
Sonia Sotomayor: She is the first Latinx appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and she earned it. Sotomayor heard more than 3,000 cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals, bringing more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any appointee in 100 years. Yet she admitted, “I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit. I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up.”
David Bowie: How does one quickly summarize Bowie’s influence and impact? He was a genre-creating, genre-bending, artistic genius. A few words will jog your memory: “glam rock,” “Space Oddity,” “Ziggy Stardust,” and The Last Temptation of Christ, just to name a few. Yet Bowie struggled with self-esteem, often burying himself in busyness, “I hid behind obsessive writing and performing...I was driven to get through life very quickly. I felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.”
We could mention many others in sports (Serena Williams), business (Sheryl Sandberg, Larry Schultz), entertainment (Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep), and additional sectors that struggle with the same voices of self-doubt yet continue to offer us groundbreaking excellence. We hope this short list inspires you to face each day with courage and offer your talents and passions no matter what the dark voices say within. The world will be richer for it, and in time and with practice, we hope that you will see this is the real truth.
United in Our Journey
At Oats Overnight, we’re always asking, “How can we do things better?” This desire for excellence has helped us create a new, superior way to do breakfast, and we’re pretty pleased with that. At the same time, we’d be lying if we said that as a young company we rarely struggle with impostor syndrome. If you also wrestle with this, we invite you to join our community of support and encouragement. We’d also love to help you fuel your growth with a nutrient-dense, delicious breakfast each morning.
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