7 Imposter Syndrome Myths You Should Know About

imposter syndrome myths you should know about

“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ . . . just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey

These days, everyone’s talking about it.

In some respects, that’s extremely good news for Sensitive Strivers. Because, as highly sensitive people, we are more likely to experience imposter syndrome, and seeing so many articles, podcasts, and experts speaking about the subject can be reassuring.

Finally, you can see that you’re not the only one who feels like a fraud. You aren’t the only one constantly questioning whether you deserve your success or worrying that you’re going to be “found out.”

Of course, there’s a flipside. The more people there are talking about it, the more the knowledge can become warped. And that same Google search will confirm something else: There are plenty of imposter syndrome myths.

That’s less helpful, because if you want to tame your own imposter syndrome, first you have to understand it. And you don’t just have to understand it in a general sense—you have to recognize how it connects to your highly sensitive personality.

So let’s clear up a few of these imposter syndrome myths so that you can start unlocking your true potential.

Related: Imposter Syndrome Symptoms – The Power Of The Little Voice

7 Imposter Syndrome Myths Debunked

Myth 1: Imposter Syndrome Is Not Real.

“Stop taking things so personally!”

This is by far the worst of the imposter syndrome myths. As a sensitive person, you’re probably used to people telling you to grow a thicker skin. When you express doubt or share your thoughts relating to imposter syndrome, those who’ve never experienced it likely invalidate your feelings, telling you that it’s all in your head or something you have to “get over.”

However, it isn’t all in your head: it’s very real.

In fact, imposter syndrome has been extensively researched for the last 40 years across different environments including academia, medicine, and the corporate world. One thing that the scientists and researchers all agree on is this: Imposter syndrome exists.

Myth 2: Imposter Syndrome Is A Mental Health Condition.

Just because you experience imposter syndrome, does not mean there is something wrong with you. It’s commonly referred to as a syndrome, and many people liken it to a mental health diagnosis. 

But imposter syndrome is better described as a phenomenon because, unlike mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, it isn’t pervasive across all parts of your life. It usually only presents in certain situations—especially professional ones that you perceive as stressful, challenging, or demanding. Imposter syndrome tends to occur at certain times and under certain conditions and is not an inherent, unchangeable part of who you are. 

Doubting your capabilities doesn’t mean you are pathological, but rather that you have a habitual pattern of thinking that you are a fraud and unqualified for success. Which, with the right tools and practice, can be changed and corrected to help you become more confident. 

Related: How To Defeat Imposter Syndrome and Bring Success Into Your Life

Myth 3: Imposter Syndrome Only Affects Women.

When imposter syndrome was first observed, it was seen primarily in high-achieving women. But now studies show that it’s equally common in men.

One U.K. survey found 52% of female respondents and 49% of male respondents said they struggle with imposter syndrome “daily” or “regularly”. Across all age groups (from adolescents to late-stage professionals), it affects up to 82% of professionals.

Imposter syndrome is particularly prevalent among minority groups, including those who are marginalized because of race, ethnicity, or neurological differences. This encompasses Sensitive Strivers. Since Sensitive Strivers makeup only 15-20% of the population, process the world more deeply, and function differently in the workplace, they tend to feel like outsiders.  

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Melody Wilding, LMSW

Melody Wilding is the author of Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work. Recently named one of Business Insider’s Most Innovative Coaches for her groundbreaking work on “Sensitive Strivers”, her clients include CEOs, C-level executives, and managers at top Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and JP Morgan, among others. Melody has been featured in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and is a contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and Forbes. Melody is a licensed social worker with a Master's from Columbia University and a professor of Human Behavior at Hunter College. Learn more at melodywilding.comView Author posts