What do Meryl Streep (Academy award winner), Sheryl Sandberg (Chief Operating Officer of Facebook) and Gabriel García Márquez (Nobel Prize winner) have in common? At various stages, they have all felt like frauds or imposters, that they don’t have the skills or abilities that other people think they have.
Many of us are waiting for that tap on the shoulder. Or for someone to come along and say “We need to have a chat”. If you’ve ever had that feeling, well, that’s the imposter feeling. And you’re in good company. Lots of people experience it.
[I felt] like an imposter, faking it, that someday they’d find out I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t. I still don’t.
You think, “Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”
There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.
These are famous examples. But imposters are to be found everywhere. They could be:
- a student wondering if they are clever enough for the exam
- a person getting ready for a job interview
- a new parent wondering if they are fit to be a parent
- someone who has just been promoted to a new challenging job
- a sportsperson wondering if they will perform well enough
In fact, most people will have imposter feelings from time to time. It’s pretty normal actually. But sometimes they can get a bit out of control. That’s when the imposter feelings develop into the imposter syndrome. It starts to affect what you do and how you think about yourself.