Impostor Syndrome and the secrets for coping when good doesn’t feel good enough

Impostor Syndrome - and the secrets for coping -
background image by Braydon Anderson and Unsplash

This weekend I will be participating in an event more terrifying than any Halloween scare. I will be attending my husband’s high school reunion as his plus one. Though he tells me not to worry, the pressure is on.

My husband and I are polar opposites when it comes to networking events. He lights up as he mingles in the center of the room with anyone and everyone. He memorizes names, occupations, next of kin, and random off-hand personal statements which prove he was actively listening (it is a talent he doesn’t always demonstrate at home with me mind you, but no one is perfect).

I, on the other hand, prefer to lurk closer to the perimeter or spend the entire event with one particular person or group. The only thing I memorize with ease is the location of the exits. I hide, nibbling on finger foods or sipping on coffee or wine – anything that can give me an excuse not to talk to people I don’t know while working up the courage to do just that.

The funny thing is, I actually I like meeting people. I like hearing their stories. I like sharing mine. What I don’t like, though, is the fear that takes over my brain and settles into my bones and causes me to slur my words or stutter and gesture with my hands like a mad woman when surrounded by strangers at an event promoting myself rather than say, a product or company. It is the fear of saying something wrong and being deemed a fraud or an impostor.

I should be afraid. I am my own worst enemy.

They might ask, so what is it you do?

The answer in my case is complicated and for every accomplishment, I might rattle off, a disclaimer lays equally ready to roll off my tongue.

I pepper words like only, not and just throughout my reply.

I am aware of the danger of this language and all the reasons I should use it, yet I can’t seem to stop.

In other words, I like big BUTs and I cannot lie.

At times I feel like I am a jack of all trades and yet I often feel like a master of none.

But at least, in those moments of doubt, I know I am not alone. According to Quartz, “Brilliant Frauds: Is imposter syndrome a sign of greatness?” 70% of people suffer from feelings that their good isn’t and may never be good enough.

Impostor (or Imposter, if you prefer) Syndrome is a term coined by researchers Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes back in 1978 and is used to describe someone who remains stubbornly convinced that their accomplishments were based on good fortune, lucky timing, or the having the right sympathetic friends rather than their own merit. While the original study was fixated on women, an excessive amount of testosterone is no sure-fire protection against the plague of self-doubt.

Do you have impostor syndrome? Symptoms include (and you can find more here):

  • You tend to discount your success (see above)
  • You’re an over-worker to a fault (once again see above)
  • You can’t help comparing your struggles (guilty of this too)

You probably already know deep down if you do, but here’s a quiz you can take to eliminate those ever-present pesky doubts. (I test high if you are curious)

So what then are the secrets for coping?

It’s recognizing the numbers are in your favor. 50% of successful people admit to feelings of inadequacy, so you are in good company. In addition, if 70% of people at a party are afraid of being found out as frauds – well there is a good chance then that they are going to be more concerned with protecting themselves and less concerned about calling you out.

It’s focusing on positive. If you believe there is still an opportunity to grow or improve, then as long as you stay with it, that’s exactly what you’ll do. Therefore embrace your inexperience, it makes you that much more a relatable and interesting a person.

I also save notes of thanks, praise, or random compliments given over the years to refer back to on days I don’t feel quite so shiny.

It’s maintaining perspective. I’ll turn it over to one of my authorly inspirations, Neil Gaiman for this.

I can’t say it any better. Image Courtesy of Imgur


We all have talents buried inside of us. Talents we don’t make the most of. Talents we prefer to keep to ourselves rather than develop or fully put to use.

The trouble with talent is it rarely stays hidden.

Project Gene Assist Book Two: The Watch & Wand goes on sale December 5th, 2017.


36 thoughts on “Impostor Syndrome and the secrets for coping when good doesn’t feel good enough

  1. We are on the same proverbial page yet again. I just wrote about self-doubt (self-judgment/not feeling good enough). It’s a huge issue and one that won’t seem to go away. Like that damn headcold that just lingers. I’m aware of my “only”, “not, “just” words, too. I hate them. And I keep using them. Seriously, I make myself cringe. And that is saying something. Good luck and try to have fun this weekend. 🙂

    Love the quote from Neil.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I did chuckle when I read your post. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Shrek movies or not, but if so please imagine Puss in Boots aka Antonio Banderas’s voice say: ‘already our minds are becoming as one…’

      And feel better!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, yes, YES! This is me!! I am so bad at talking about my achievements while minimising them at the same time. I never think I am doing ‘enough’ at work. I fear colleagues thinking the same, so I do too much to compensate. I’m starting a new job next week so imposter syndrome is in full swing right now! I hope the school reunion goes well. It’s a good chance for you to test yourself out and talk about yourself loud and proud, without putting yourself down in some way 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “The funny thing is, I actually I like meeting people.” Me too– and everything you wrote in the paragraph after that, too.

    I didn’t know how Impostor Syndrome was defined, but having read your post I can see that I suffer from it at times. In some situations I feel in control– but going forward I’m going to think of Neil Armstrong from now on when I feel overwhelmed.

    [In college I lived in the same dorm as his son. I never met the man, but I once got on the elevator and everyone told me that I’d just missed N.A. Wouldn’t you know?]


    1. Part of me is glad for it. It keeps me humble, which I’d like to think keeps me from making some of the larger mistakes one can make when ego is involved, but it also makes me a terribly uncomfortable with self-promotion, which is a rather large detriment. I’m trying to do better, but I have a long way to go.


  4. My husband and I are also polar opposites at events, Allie. I can be the life and soul of the party but only for a limited time. Then I have had enough and I leave, with or without my husband. Terence doesn’t say that much but he can go the distance and be around people for much longer than me.


    1. Sounds like you make a good team then.

      Our roles flip when we are among long time friends and comfortable surroundings. I can chat until wee hours of the morning while he is asleep on the couch.


  5. I feel it often enough, the impostor syndrome. Especially with my reiki group, in my job (a part of me KNOWS I’m good at what I do, another part doubts myself as I don’t have the degrees to show for it), my writing…


    I’m getting better (so I only scored ‘moderate’), but there is still a ways to go!

    I read this, following taking the quizz. Made me think of your post.

    (I messed up with the link, will have to come back to share it!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the quiz! I love taking personality style quizzes even if they reinforce what I already know about myself. If my day job were to read this post, they might be surprised because there are certain skills I am quite confident about, but … wait. no. I’m doing it again. Sigh…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can relate Allie. Too often I’ve let fear and doubt hold me back. And yet I’ve had periods of time with higher joy and confidence. And us introverts have to work at the socializing, promoting thing! Maybe it’s time we graduate to the confident club! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t really think I have it, though like you I will very much memorize the exits and focus on sipping a drink rather than talking with strangers and mingling. But that’s just the introvert within rearing his ugly head.

    Also, I have never been to a single high school reunion. Then again, I don’t currently live anywhere near either of my high schools, so that is certainly a factor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are quite the lucky one then!

      I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I’ll attend my next one. Most everyone I’ve wanted to catch up with is on Facebook


  8. Sounds like fairly standard introvert behavior. I call it humility. My fear would be that I don’t insert the but and someone finds out later that it’s only a team of seven and think I was trying to sound more important that I am. THAT would be my personal fear.
    I like big BUTs and I cannot lie.–Classic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All that effort to stand out from the crowd only to find out I am a textbook case.

      Glad that line gave you a chuckle. It amused me, though the song keeps getting stuck in my head.


    1. My brain would have exploded to be in the same room listening to the conversation in person. Of course they wouldn’t have noticed me eavesdropping because of the whole corner lurking thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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