In 1978 Suzanna Imes & Pauline Rose Clance1 published their latest work and the term “Imposter Phenomenon” entered the language. Over time this became the more commonly heard, but perhaps more pejorative, “Imposter Syndrome”, subtly moving the meaning from being something that happens to being something that’s wrong with someone.
So what is it? At its simplest it’s an internal belief that you’re not up to the task, or as good as others think you are. You maybe feel that you’re flying by the seat of your pants, making it up as you go along and it’s only luck that got you this far. One day, you’re certain, you’ll be found out.
In practice this can appear in many different ways and in 2011 Dr Valerie Young2 described five main behavioural types
In the meantime, remember, some level of uncertainty, especially in a new environment, is normal. Thinking about how you’ll do something, needing to learn or making a mistake doesn’t make you an imposter. Asking for help, helps you perform better, it is not a weakness.
1 The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Pauline Rose Clance & Suzanna Imes
2 The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It Dr Valerie Young
3 Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome Ruchika Tulshyan & Jodi-Ann Burey