🎭 THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME 🙈 DO YOU HAVE IT 🧐

Growing up, we’re taught that if we work hard and do our best, we’ll put ourselves in positions to succeed. At the very least, we’ll be recognized for our accomplishments.

This idea sounded good and it make sense, but sometimes accolades can bring a feeling of dread, even shame. For some reason, many of us believe, deep down, that we aren’t deserving of what we get.

These feelings have carried over into adulthood into our careers and relationships — where there’s already an ongoing struggle to maintain a healthy sense of self-worth in an unequal environment. But trying to pinpoint where this mental state comes from has been a struggle all its own.

There are many who deeply feel that their achievements are undeserved. Because of this phenomenon, no amount of credibility or accomplishments can fend off the feelings of being a fraud and it’s certainly not just about class and gender.

Nonetheless , when you’re conditioned to believe that you shouldn’t be paid what you’re worth, when you seldom see people who look like you represented as high achievers, and when your peers imply you only got this far because of affirmative action, that’s fertile ground for impostor syndrome to grow. This is a factor that’s far too often ignored.

In order for us to address this feeling, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I deserve this more than the next person, or is my privilege coming into play?” However, a lot of the mainstream self-help advice suggests that we not question our achievements precisely because it can sound like impostor syndrome.

I’d argue that impostor syndrome actually makes it harder for people to check their privilege. When we feel afraid of being “caught out” as a fraud, we don’t want our accomplishments questioned.

Instinctively, we get defensive instead of actually engaging with our privilege, because acknowledging privilege means accepting that maybe I am a fraud. It means that some opportunities and accomplishments came about as result of discrimination against others instead of my own qualifications.

Maybe if those with privilege would question their achievements more often, it might bring about more self-awareness, which might bring about more active support for those who are marginalized.

How do you tell the difference between impostor syndrome and the act of checking your privilege? There are no easy answers to this. But instead of avoiding the uncomfortable questions, we need to sit with them.

While it’s important to work on our self-image, it’s also important to think about impostor syndrome in the context of a society that is far from equal. We can’t self-help our way out of oppression, but we can continue to achieve with the right mindset.

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