Imposter syndrome is the phenomenon of doubting your own accomplishments, assuming that they are just luck, and worrying that other people will see through the facade of success. It is extremely prevalent in young professionals, especially women. The most frustrating part of that scenario is that young professional women already have many obstacles to overcome, they shouldn’t have to battle themselves, too.
Although imposter syndrome doesn’t discriminate, we’ll be focusing on the aspects of imposter syndrome that can be detrimental to professional development for young professional women. It is, however, important to mention that men experience imposter syndrome almost as often as women. This study on the prevalence of imposter syndrome in the workplace showcases the volume of people who experience feeling like a fraud — in both men and women, 1 in 5 people feel like an imposter at work.
There are five different types of imposter syndrome that can affect people, including:
- The perfectionist
- The superman/superwoman
- The natural genius
- The Soloist
- The Expert
The Superwoman dimension of imposter syndrome is about pushing yourself to work harder under the pretense that you aren’t already doing enough. This can be especially detrimental to mental health, and maybe even your workload. Burnout is very real and very correlated to pushing yourself past your boundaries so your work-life balance is nonexistent. Many young women feel like they need to stay late in order to get ahead or show that they are dedicated to their work. That’s not a measure of being good enough, at all.
Although competition can be friendly and motivating at times, in the workplace, competition makes for insecurity and creates opportunities for power struggles among employees. Imagine if someone stays late every day after core hours… wouldn’t you feel compelled to do something similar? Nobody is a superhero, able to carry the load alone.
While there are five different types, the “superwoman” is one of the most detrimental archetypes for young professionals. Women in their 20s and even throughout their 30s are faced with many responsibilities, which can feel overwhelming by itself. Believing that you are a failure or you are only getting by because of luck is really detrimental to self-worth, and it can encourage you to work harder than you need to. And it’s possible that people feel guilty about their success or they are afraid of success, so they attribute it to luck.
If you’re feeling some of the symptoms of imposter syndrome, it’s crucial to talk with someone (either at work or outside the office, whatever is more comfortable for you) and make strides forward. No one deserves to feel like a fraud, especially if they’re putting in the work.