Impostor Syndrome

Self imposed, environmental, relational- debilitating.

The term Imposter Syndrome has come up in the news, in Natalie Portman’s speech at Harvard. I love Natalie and thinking of her work at Harvard, though my experience couldn’t be more different, is motivating in times of excessive pressure, doubt, and struggle. Academically, I “WWNPD” and it works. It’s kind of her to share the intimacy in believing your actions are counterfeit; it’s natural, familiar, and infectious.

Impostor Syndrome: I haven’t earned the place, the person, the thoughts that I hold and exhibit. You don’t have to be as lovely or “inherently smart” as the lovely Natalie Portman, to feel diminished. In college, I’d say, “I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, well I snuck through the back door.” Dismissing my presence because being a part of SAIC was an accomplishment special to me. That’s learned and gender specific behavior: don’t be too arrogant, be assertive (lest we seem too confident, aka bitchy!), demonstrate pride (let we seem bossy!), deny compliments, I’m sorry for everything all the time always! etc. (Others’ well trodden thoughts on feminine behavior.) We do not all have to shine was not quite Natalie’s point, but as she reminded, what we have is great, imperfect, ours, and equal.

You don’t have to be a certain kind of a person to be a huge success, you just have to focus on the things you’re good at.

Gillian Joe Segal

I have been finding lots of excellent quotes from powerful women I admire…Really, I can find them all day. However, drilling them into my brain and then creating and establishing a positive behavior reflecting the knowledge is so much slower!

Gemma gives great advice (while we’re givin’ it!) over on Cup of Jo:

Firstly, everything is going to be okay. Second, stop going to the gym every day if you’re just going to read magazines going slo-mo on the elliptical trainer.

Gemma Burgess via Cup of Jo

Impostor Syndrome is better described by Washington Post columnist, Elahe Izadi. Also, by Sarah Jacoby in conversation with Anneli Rufus, author of Unworthy.



Hey, you!

Look at my majestic Greyhound! Sweet and soft, my Cow Girl demonstrates boldness and power, not her extreme shyness or abject terror in the face of a loud noise or garbage truck.

She’s an impostor of sorts too. Greyhounds appear to be dogs, but behave completely different. Hard to explain, but worth the experience in rescuing, rehabilitating, and loving one (or two). 

Photo credit: Nan Sanders