Mastery, excellence, and integrity. These three values can lead us to great achievements in life. They drive us to ace a test, earn a promotion at work, or create a wonderful work of art.
These successes are hard-won. And yet many of us often feel as if we haven’t earned them, even when everyone else thinks we have. Instead, we feel like con artists who have swindled our way to victory—like impostors who don’t belong. Ultimately, the same aspirations that brought us to success still seem hopelessly unfulfilled.
This feeling that we haven’t earned our successes—that we’re inadequate, incompetent, or fraudulent—is a psychological phenomenon known as impostor syndrome. It’s something 70% of people experience, regardless of age, race, sex, or gender. One’s level of success doesn’t seem to matter either; extremely successful people are just as prone to experiencing impostor syndrome, if not more. In fact, some of the world’s most well-known and renowned achievers—like Albert Einstein, John Steinbeck, Meryl Streep, and Maya Angelou—have experienced it. For these people, impostor syndrome is an unsettling byproduct of continued success. But for countless others, it can seem like an insurmountable obstacle preventing them from reaching further in life.
At its core, impostor syndrome is a distortion of the values that motivate us to succeed in the first place. Fortunately, we can work to return these values to their undistorted state, where they can continue to drive us toward continued success. To do so we must first look more closely at how this phenomenon manifests itself in our lives and discover where it comes from.
How Do I Know If I’m Experiencing Impostor Syndrome?
There isn’t an exact diagnosis for impostor syndrome, but there are some tells that mean you may be experiencing it.
- Anxiety. Impostor syndrome is highly coincident with feelings of general anxiety.
- Self-doubt. Experiencing self-doubt from time to time is normal and even healthy. But frequent projecting intense self-doubt onto past, present, and future experiences is a sign of impostor syndrome.
- Feeling on the verge of being “found out.” A frequent symptom of impostor syndrome is constantly feeling that others around you will discover that you’re a fraud whenever you’ve succeeded in something.
- “That was just luck.” Those who suffer from impostor syndrome tend to attribute success to luck or describe it as a fluke.
- Post-success blues. Rather than feel happiness and pride in the wake of success, sufferers of impostor syndrome feel relief or even distress.
- Seeking validation. “Impostors” give authority figures—like parents or bosses—the agency to determine whether they are successful or not.
Uprooting Impostor Syndrome
As far as we know, the causes of impostor syndrome vary from individual to individual. It is likely rooted in inherent personality traits along with the circumstances of one’s upbringing, such as familial and other environmental influences.
Feeling like you’re an outsider can also spur impostor syndrome. When you’re surrounded by people who think and behave similarly to you, it boosts confidence. But if you’ve never felt like you belong to a certain social group or fit in with your community, this confidence-building process may have never taken place.
This month, we’ll search for the roots of this phenomenon within ourselves and learn how to effectively undo it. Along the way, we’ll expose the truth of the matter: that we do belong, that we have each earned our individual successes, and that the only impostor is impostor syndrome itself.
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.
If you need to restock your supply, check out some of our new flavors.
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About Oats Overnight
Enjoy the benefits of eating breakfast with none of the work. Overnight oatmeal loaded with superfoods like flax, chia, maca root, and 20g+ of protein. No recipes needed. Life Is Hard, Make Breakfast Easy.