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21 Proven Ways To Overcome Impostor Syndrome




I decided not to post this… but here we are. I told myself it wasn’t good enough. In actuality I was just scared. A reader saved it when she emailed about her own Impostor Syndrome. I sent her this post and she responded with this:

Well, here it goes…

[Update: Since posting this, there have been a ton of people commenting about their experiences with Impostor Syndrome, their stories might be even more helpful than the article itself. Definitely check them out.]

[Update 2: You’re going to want to save these “21 Proven Ways To Overcome Imposter Syndrome” – you can download them as a PDF here to save forever and ever.]


I’m a fraud and everyone is about to find out. I feel that every time I am about to share something. I feel that right now writing this: I don’t even have impostor syndrome. That’s how bad my impostor syndrome is. I even think I’m faking that. If it’s part of my life, it’s fake. What is impostor syndrome? It’s feeling like an impostor when you’re not. Like you’re a fraud and the whole world is going to find you out. This makes total sense for undercover agents and people selling snake oil. It doesn’t make so much sense for people who are trying to make the world a little better or to sell something they believe in. bossypants-tina-fey The first step to feeling better about anything is to realize that famous people suffer the same thing. So here are some famous people with Impostor Syndrome:

“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!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey

“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.” Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization

“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented.  I’m really not very good.  It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeifer

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this.  I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “ – Maya Angelou

Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg, and Sonia Sotomayor have also admitted to feeling like they’ll be found out for the frauds they are. impostor lady But wait, these are all women… Apparently this is mostly a problem for women. I don’t buy that though. I think that guys just won’t talk about it. Or at least that’s the story I’m going with. (I don’t want to be girly.) In searching for famous people with impostor syndrome I did find a couple males. Tom Hanks and Neil Gaiman (artists of course, but they’ll do):

“The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome, something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.” – Neil Gaiman

Seth Godin wrote in The Icarus Deception that after a dozen best sellers he still feels like a fraud all the time. (I have a sneaking suspicion that Tim Ferriss suffers it too, just saying.) This problem is only getting worse as more of us rely on our online presences. We’re in this weird culture where you’ve got to sell yourself aggressively while remaining “authentic”. You think you need to be perfect but you also need to feel free to fail. You need to be yourself and more! It’s all set up to make you feel like a fraud. At the end of this post I’m going to issue a challenge. If you don’t feel like reading anything else, skip down and do the thing with me! Here are the ways I keep going when I feel like a fraud: i have no idea what im doing

21 Ways To Overcome Impostor Syndrome

1. Come off it. Usually I feel like a fraud when I think I’m more important than I am. When you feel like a fraud it’s in relation to some perfection that never actually existed. Letting go of some of your excess self-importance will go a long way in helping you feel less like a fake.

2. Accept that you have had some role in your successes. We feel like frauds because we are “unable to internalize our successes”. We were given an opportunity that others weren’t. And so nothing we achieve after that opportunity was actually deserved.

John D. Rockefellar’s oldest son suffered that bad. His entire life’s work was giving away money that his dad made. Can you imagine the intense impostor syndrome he must have felt? Holy moly.

There are plenty of people born with a silver spoon that still manage to f*#$ up. They were given every opportunity and never could take advantage of them. Opportunities come to those who expose themselves to them.

It’s not all “fair”, not at all. But you did do something to get where you are. You said yes when you could have said no (or, maybe more challenging, you said no when you could have said yes.)

3. Focus on providing value. I feel like a fraud when I’m concerned about myself. What will they think of me? If I fail they’ll shun me. I don’t know as much as that other guy, I have no right to say anything on the topic. Blah blah blah. The fastest way to get over feeling like a fraud is to genuinely try to help someone else

This is hard because what if they hate you for it? What if they make fun of you for trying to help? What if your sincerity is smashed under the laughter of others? Then OUCH! That hurts bad. Not nearly as bad as it hurts to feel like a shell of yourself though. I remember the first time I wrote vulnerably. I had gone through severe depression and had benefitted from reading about others being depressed. I felt obligated to share my story. I did. It’s a couple years later now and I still get emails telling me how helpful the letter was to them. Not one person made fun of me for that. At least to my face.   humility cs lewis 4. Keep a file of people saying nice things about you. I just started this earlier this year and it’s been amazing. Every time someone writes that I helped them online I take a screenshot and put it in my folder. When I feel like a fraud I can go look through the stories of people I have helped. There is a mom who’s 18 year old boy was shaken out of being stuck because of something I had written. There are a whole series of entrepreneurs who started businesses because of articles I’ve written. There are successful entrepreneurs that were reinvigorated by something I wrote. There are a whole slew of people at rock bottom who have found life worth living again because of something I wrote. Those things keep me putting stuff out there. Because, honestly, it’s easy to forget that writing can do any good. Collect your wins, testimonials, whatever and then visit them when you’re feeling like a fraud. impostor graph 5. Stop comparing yourself to that person. There’s no good reason for you to be reading what I’m writing. There are world class biographies of Warren Buffett, John D. Rockefeller, and Einstein. James Altucher has had more successes than me. Peter Thiel just wrote a book. Tim Ferriss, Paul Graham, Kevin Kelly… these guys blog! But still, I’m writing this because I think I have something to offer. Actually, when I look at my praise file I have proof that I have something to offer.

When I compare myself to these others it’s easy to fall into the trap of “my life sucks compared to that life”. You might as well not even do anything! Your life isn’t the best life! Emerson said, “Envy is ignorance…” and he was right on. You aren’t here to live the life of another person. You’re here to do whatever life you can. Turn Facebook off, get off Instagram, stop reading biographies of “successful” people and learn to respect your own experience. You’re not a fraud, you’re just you.

6. Expose yourself totally. Part of the twisted arrogance that causes impostor syndrome is the (usually unconscious) belief that you have extreme powers that the world couldn’t handle. Or maybe it’s just that you think you are a freak. You certainly have the ability to offer the world something that nobody else can… but really it’s not that wild! You are not nearly as much of a freak as you think you are. Again, come off it, you’re just not that special.

Do this: write for 30 minutes the most insane things about yourself. You will never show anybody this. Write your most ridiculous beliefs, your most terrible thoughts, your biggest fraud! Just write gibberish if you think that is crazy. Push into the deepest taboos you hold. Seeing these on paper doesn’t get rid of them but externalizing things puts them in a more sane perspective.

I have a gay friend. Everyone knew he was gay. He spent years not telling anyone. He spent a huge chunk of his life without expressing himself. If the world knew he was gay everything would be over. “So, I’m gay,” he told me. Big surprise. “Okay,” I told him. The next month I saw him he was living a totally different life. There was some kind of rusty wheel in him that was now spinning freely. His eyes shone with life. He was energetic and positive. All just from letting down his guard for a minute. science girl 7. Treat the thing as a business/experiment. Today there is a whole slew of artist-entrepreneurs. We call part of what we do “content creation”. There has never been a time in history where so many people have a “voice”. No wonder we’re all suffering from impostor syndrome.

Start treating even your art as a business. Not to the point that you start making crap because it’s what people like, but to the point that you are honestly serving the market. In a business, if a product doesn’t sell, you stop making it.

If nobody shares this post or leaves comments then I’ll assume that nobody wants to hear me talk about impostor syndrome—so I’ll stop. I won’t wallow in my failure and think the world hates me.

I’m running a test. Looking at it this way makes it easier to create the thing freely.

8.  Say “It’s Impostor Syndrome” and it immediately becomes a little less terrible.

9. Remember: being wrong doesn’t make you a fake. The best basketball players miss most of the shots they take. The best traders lose money on most trades. Presidents are wrong about stuff all the time. The best football teams inevitably lose.

Losing is just part of the game. Don’t glorify failure, but don’t let it make you feel like you’re not a real contender either.

10.  “Nobody Belongs Here More Than You” <<That’s the title of a book I haven’t read, but I agree with it. Why do we feel we don’t deserve to be in the game? Because we haven’t won it yet? We haven’t even tried! Break people down into what they are: expiring meat sacks.

We are all going to die, we just take different routes to get there. One of the most attractive qualities in a person is acceptance.

Acceptance of themselves and acceptance of you.

Not in the surrendering kind of way, in the “seeing clearly” kind of way. If you can admit that nobody belongs here more than you (while maintaining the belief that you don’t belong here any more than anyone else) you will find yourself making connections with people in powerful ways. imposter heart 11. Realize that when you hold back you’re robbing the world. If you walk around feeling that you should be someone else or that you don’t deserve to be here then all your crappy vibes rub off on other people. Your stunted expression means that you can’t be there for people who need you.

Everyone has doubts, the best gift you can give the world is to move forward regardless of the doubts—because it gives us the permission to move forward as well.

12. You’re going to die. Do you want to be on your deathbed regretting that you spent your entire life stopping yourself because you felt like a fraud? Maybe you can’t shake the feeling that you’re a fraud. You can force yourself to move forward despite the feeling.

13.  Stream-of-conscious writing. I suggested something similar in #1. This is aimless though. Do this: write for 30+ minutes nonstop. You can’t put your pen down. If there is no thought in your head then write “I can’t think of anything” until you do. This will constantly put you in touch with what’s going on inside yourself.

It will show you how silly the impostor syndrome is. It’s awesome.

14. Say what you can. We are often put in the position of “expert”. When this happens people look at you like you should know everything about a topic. We can’t know everything about anything though. If I’m in a situation where there is potential to actually be a fraud—ie bullshit about things I don’t know—I just say what I can instead. People respect this much more. Admit that you don’t yet have the answer but you’ll find it.

Admit that you haven’t found the perfect solution but you’ve come close enough.

i have no idea what im doing

the second time for good measure!

15. Realize that nobody knows what they’re doing. Most startups fail. Even the ones that you hear about raising millions of dollars fail all the time. Nobody knows exactly what’s going on. There are a ton of people who will tell you they know the answers. These people are liars.

The world we live in is the result of a lot of brave people tinkering, failing, and succeeding once in a while. Nobody knows what’s next: some are willing to play ball in the face of uncertainty and some aren’t. You’re not an impostor for trying something that might not work. You’re a hero.

16. Take action. Impostor Syndrome lives in abstraction. It is impossible for it to survive when you’re taking action. Taking action proves that you’re not a fraud. It tests your mettle in the real world.

Impostor Syndrome cannot do damage to the person who consistently takes action. (You still might feel it every once in a while but you won’t let it stop you.)

17. Realize that you are never you. You’re constantly changing. You’re constantly becoming a new person. Your opinions change with new information (I hope). You spend 6 months eating donuts and then you spend 6 months at the gym. Last year you were obsessed with Call of Duty, now you don’t understand video games. Maybe you were in a terrible mood this morning. Maybe you’re a bit brighter now.

“There is as much difference between us an ourselves as there is between us and others.” – Michel de Montaigne

You are growing into something different. You are getting better. How? By trying to do something better than you actually can. That’s not a lie, that’s valor. authenticity hoax18. Authenticity is a hoax. What is being authentic? I’m not going to write to my grandma using the same words as I use to write to my sister. I’m not even going to emphasize the same interests I have.

If I’m selling security systems, I’m not going to pitch a Mormon the way I pitch a rock star. It just wouldn’t make sense. There is no person you can be other than you. Ever. The impostor syndrome will have you believe that you are being inauthentic. That you are a liar. If that’s true then where is your true self!?

The impostor syndrome doesn’t give an answer because it doesn’t have one. Tell it to eff off.

19. See credentials for what they are. They don’t mean much. “Expert” means someone decided to call them that. “PhD” doesn’t mean someone knows more than you, it means they spent more time in school about you. (And actually do know way more than you about some uselessly specific topic.)

“As seen in The Wall Street Journal” means they knew how to use HARO. Don’t measure yourself by credentials. It takes the focus away from actually doing good things. And it won’t shut up the impostor syndrome for long either.

20. Find one person you can say, “I feel like a fraud” to. Being able to say that out loud to another person can be a huge help. Especially when they laugh at you for it.

21. Faking things actually does work. Sometimes faking it doesn’t make you a fraud. If you smile your body will be more generous with happy chemicals and actually make you happier. Neuroplasticity means that you can shape your brain by pretending.

When you were a baby you tried to walk and fell down every time. Were you a walking impostor? Who are you to walk!? You can’t even do it! It’s absurd!

Silicon Valley has been built by people trying to do things that probably weren’t going to work. We need them to keep trying. We need you to keep trying. We need you. Whether you feel like an impostor or not. impostor syndrome cartoon

Impostor Syndrome: The Challenge

You have the opportunity right this very instant to overcome your impostor syndrome. This is what we’re going to do. A Blog Confessional of sorts.

Write in the comments one thing you’ve avoided because you feel like a fraud. (If this is too much, you can email me… commenting will be more powerful though.) You can even stay anonymous if you want. Maybe you haven’t started that blog because you feel that you couldn’t do it as well as the people already blogging about a topic. Maybe you haven’t started your business because you don’t think you’re an “entrepreneur”. Maybe you haven’t talked to that pretty girl/guy. I don’t know. There are all sorts of thing. I’ll give you mine in a second.

**BONUS ROUND** Do something about it! If you don’t know what to do, I’ll give you a suggestion. The comment itself will be a huge step for sure. It’ll be even more huge to take the thing head on. grad school impostor

We read and reply to every one!
  • I did #6. I wrote all about how I’m insecure and anxious. About all the bad, undesirable things about me. I let it all out. And it was all true because even though I do my best to put forward a facade, I’m still the same insecure and anxious person.

    It made me feel like even more of a fraud who deceives people with his external persona (and not always succeeding at it).

    • This post just went up a few minutes ago — I’d try to keep going at least for the 30 minutes suggested. Keep writing and writing until you break through.

      It’s not about punishing yourself, it’s not about figuring out new ways you’re bad, it’s simply a record. It’s not an immediate switch that happens. If you try this style writing (#13) for a week I would bet that you begin to see results. (It takes me a solid 7 days in a row to really see serious improvements.)

      The quicker perspective-shifters are in the other numbers.

      • I meant to say I did the writing on another occasion before I read this article, but you’re right that it wasn’t for 30 minutes (I think…I didn’t keep track). I wrote until I expressed everything I wanted to say about my shortcomings.

        However, I will try your suggestions, thanks.

        • Ahh I gotcha! Definitely try pushing yourself PAST the point of seeing your shortcomings, that’s when they lose power.

          I think it was in Thinking, Fast and Slow that I read about an experiment where people felt GOOD after writing 3 good things about themselves but BAD when they tried to writes 12 or so… because the feeling that “I can’t think of any more good things about myself” itself is painful. What we’re doing, in part, is a kind of reversal of that.

  • Nice post. Love the emphasis on techniques to just move forward and do it anyway.

    My thing is “I know how to get kids from zero to pretty dang good on the guitar, but I’m no John Mayer so I have no business selling guitar learning products”. Truth is, I should never rest until every little kid who tries my stuff gets just as good as I am on the guitar. Then I can say “that’s all I got man” and I will have added tons of value. It’s funny really that we’d let the lack of having the last piece on the tip top of the iceberg keep us from adding the huge value below that we already can add.

    • Great insights Scott! In the case of teaching I think it’s helpful to remember that teaching/coaching and performing are separate skills. A coach isn’t expected to perform at the same level as the athlete or musician or entrepreneur–the coach has a different skill set.

      Mannn I really want to see these guitar videos!!

  • Man, seriously the timing of this is unbelievable. “The fastest way to get over feeling like a fraud is to genuinely try to help someone else.” — duuuude, I’m just saying, if I wake up every day and read that one thing my life will look totally different.

    Today I started working on a product and threw the idea in front of some people and one of them said, “Why would anyone listen to you instead of John Carlton & this and that person.”

    It got me down, pretty bad, I kind of decided he was right and that I didn’t want to finish. Then I read this post and thought about how it could help people. Like I said, perfect timing. Thanks for writing.

    • Thanks Taylor! I do that same thing–stick with a couple quotes that I read every day to remind myself of an important theme.

      Peter Thiel wrote a business book, so have a bunch of other billionaires… it doesn’t mean they are the ONLY books worth reading. If anything, they’re detached from what many people need.

      Why would anyone read anything besides the BEST? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and still can’t figure it out for sure. Nobody would call the bestselling novels the “best” novels. They help in their own way that academics don’t often appreciate.

      People will listen to you over John Carlton because you connect with them in a way that he didn’t. You have a story that’s different than his.

  • Paul

    Fantastic article. I felt compelled to leave a comment just to say thanks.

    It really resonated with me and I realise I have been doing this imposter syndrome thing my whole life…


  • Hey Kyle,
    I found you guys last week while looking for info on importing. I read your post on becoming Antifragile a few days ago, and it’s really stayed with me. One of my favorite Aqib Talib quotes: “Atheists are just modern versions of religious fundamentalists: they both take religion too literally.”

    I was let go from a network radio job four months ago, and it was like the fulfillment of the Impostor Syndrome sufferer’s worst nightmare; you think someone’s going to decide what you do is crap and blow you out–and one day they do. I’ve been frenetically creating content, hoping to get some traction (I’m doing a daily podast on spirituality, and a weekly podcast on geek-centric topics). I’m seeing some good things happen, but not much money. The money part is starting to get really, really important. So it’s pretty much Impostor’s Syndrome all day, every day.

    When I read the post and your call to action, I thought of the piece of content I’ve worked the hardest on, have been the proudest of, and haven’t shown anybody. I finished it three months ago. It’s the first part of a short documentary I’m making about a kid with Asperger’s Syndrome who shot his own Star Trek fan film. Sorry if this seems like a plug; it’s really, truly the first thing that came to mind, because out of everything I’ve done over the past four months-podcasts, animation, video, blogging–it’s the only thing I’ve been hoarding. Very strange. Here’s the link:

    I like what you have to say about entrepreneurship, but I LOVE what you have to say about life. Seriously. It’s just what I’ve needed.

    • That quote is great!

      A couple general tips on your business (although I’m going to get into this in much more depth in future posts):
      -Focus less on quantity and more on quality and marketing. There is a TON of content being created every day now. You need to make something awesome that will hit people in a new way. Also, you need to spend time marketing the content or nobody will get to it. Focus on providing absurd value.
      -Use your content as an MVP for a possible course or coaching program. Take your best performing piece of content and turn it into a premium course. (This is your best bet to make money quickly without ruining your brand.)

      HELL YES on sharing that video. I loved it… really inspiring!!

      Thanks a ton for posting here Sean. Awesome to have you in the community 🙂

      • Thanks, Kyle. I’ve seen some of your posts on marketing, and I’ll spend some time with them. I wrote a post on my blog talking about what you’d written, and about some things I had said in a recent podcast, and I’ve gotten a tremendous response. I’m getting a clear idea of what’s resonating with my podcast audience, and I need to focus on maximizing that. I really appreciate your combination of boots-on-the-ground advice and some really insightful thoughts about life in general.

        • That’s great Sean! I’d be happy to come on your podcast if you’d like

  • Hi Kyle,

    Great post and glad you decided to publish it.

    All great points but the one that I can relate to the most is…
    9. Remember: being wrong doesn’t make you a fake…

    I allow being wrong and my failures to weigh down on shoulders far to much. But I guess being such a psychotic perfectionist has a little something to do with that too!

    Keeping a praise file is a great idea and I’ll test out the 30 minute writing task to.

    Thanks for sharing your vulnerabilities with us. It’s nice to know industry leaders are human too – I guess we forget about these types of emotions sometimes because it’s to commonly associated with weakness so nobody talks, we forget.

    Buy as soon as someone opens the can, the floods starts and everyone saying “yea bro, me to, know how you feel”


    • Thanks for the kind words, Naomi! Come back after you try the writing exercise and let us know how it works for you.

  • Hey Kyle, great article. I constantly feel like a fraud. I have started up a jewellery business, and I handmake sterling silver jewellery. The thing is, I’m self sabotaging myself and not doing anything to expand as I feel that I’m not as good as the other jewellers and what’s the point? I taught myself what I know, which isn’t much, but I definitely don’t have as many skill in silversmithing as hose who studied for 3-4 years. So, while I could be pushing myself forward and building a business, I’ve gone back to ‘day job’ work and have put the business on the sidelines while I try and figure out how to get around the next hurdle… Finding someone/ people I can get to handmake my designs, while bringing work to them and helping their community.

    • Clare I love your designs… you better not stop!

      It’s bizarre to me that we can see ourselves self-sabotaging and then still do it! The best-seller is almost never the “best” at something. You have a unique style that others will want. I love the site you have set up. It seems to me like you just need some assistance with branding, motivation, and some technical pieces of growth.

      You might be interested in our coaching program that deals with the details of sourcing products and working with suppliers; setting up distribution channels, marketing, and other requirements with growth.

      You’ve already built an awesome foundation. I really hope you push through this dip.

      • Thanks Kyle,
        It’s so nice to hear that. 🙂
        And yes, absolutely bizarre to keep self sabotaging even though I know I’m doing it. Odd to day the least!
        I would love to know more about the course/ coaching program you mention. Are you able to email me some details please?
        Thanks again, I feel this was a step toward getting more clarity and pulling myself forward.

  • Thanks Kyle – I am also very glad you published this article as well.
    I have heard of imposter syndrome and while I didn’t think I suffered from it, I realize there’s a variant out there called ‘not good enough’ syndrome with which I am quite familiar.
    Being enough is a work in progress. “Done is better than perfect” is now my motto (any men on here read Lean In?). I like the idea of keeping good testimonials for rainy days. Asking for feedback from people we trust and who like us is a good way to ensure more positive testimonials.
    I heartily agree that comparing oneself to others is a road to hell – it’s like comparing my most miserable self to someone’s most awesome on holiday Facebook self – not a fair comparison, is it? There is probably nobody we know with the same unique mix of talents, challenges, beliefs and experiences that we have, so each of us is unique and incomparable. “Same unique” is oxymoronic as well. And just plain moronic.
    I shall get out my pen and write my beliefs that are not serving me as well as my skills that gave me some awesome testimonials in the first place. Let’s play to our strengths, lovely start-up people! 🙂

    • Thanks for the insights on the not-good-enough variant! That seems like something that is especially American currently (thinking of the Bigger Stronger Faster documentary) and I’m not sure it’s all together terrible. That feeling of dissatisfaction can propel us forward. It’s when we let it overtake us/paralyze us that it’s really bad.

      Striking that balance and being content with dissatisfaction–feeling the need to push forward without feeling anxiety about not being further along–is freaking tough, maybe impossible to sustain, but it’s the thing I strive for.


  • [NOTE: I originally wrote an 1150 word reply. Holy Schmoly, right? Well, I copied that to my personal notes and greatly reduced my comment. However, it was a great exercise.]

    Hi, Kyle. Great article; glad you shared. It’s been the discussion for the evening at our house – the follow up of a brief mention of an interview I saw with billionaire businessman, John Hunstman Sr. who said this about business (to the best of my recollection): “It’s all made up. Everything. And that’s OK. As long as everyone else agrees to find value in whatever is made up, it’s good.”

    My wife, Renee, had a conversation earlier today with some friends of hers about similar things, not knowing of your article, at that time. So your article was perfect timing and perfect fodder for our conversation, tonight.

    (As you know, Kyle) I’m producing a moviemaking competition. Yet I know very few in the moviemaking industry. So, I’m going in with this kind of, ‘Build It And They Will Come’ mentality.

    Fortunately, I can look at my skillset as someone who brings people and ideas together and I can take confidence in that. And, I can look at the actual description of the competition and say, “Dang! This is really cool. I want to get involved with this somehow.” Then I get to smile, because I AM involved in it.

    Those are really great perspectives, right?

    But THEN, a voice from the opposite shoulder chimes in: “You don’t have any filmmaker friends. You don’t know anyone to help you get this off the ground; people you can say, ‘Hey guys, let’s do this thing!’ Nope. You’ve opened registration and all you’re hearing are crickets — but even THEY aren’t signing up.”

    And so goes the daily battle. Sometimes once voice wins. Sometimes, the other. I try to keep moving regardless of which voice is winning.

    • Hey Dave!

      You just sent me down a Wikipedia hole with the Jon Huntsman quote… so great!!

      I’m still pumped on Trailer Sports. You got to tap the community that is already participating in blitz film fests.

      Creating Trailer Sports is probably the best way to meet those people you need to meet. Talk with them about what they think about it, talk with them about events they’ve run or participated in. Having a venture to discuss instead of just getting coffee or whatever is really helpful!

      I love you you put that at the end: it really doesn’t matter which voice prevails in the end if you take action… because that’s the one thing that really does make a difference.

      You rock. Thanks Dave!!

  • By the way, I’m the Mormon you spoke to differently when pitching your vacuum cleaner. Thanks! I appreciate that. But how do you pitch Mormon rock stars? Cuz you KNOW they’ll still be doing their own housework.

    One more aside: At least in the vacuum cleaner business if someone tells you your product sucks it’s easier to choose to see it as a compliment.

    • LOL!

      I’ve got no idea on the rockstar front–you’ll have to help me out!

  • Kyle, thank you for the article. It is was interesting and insightful. Your tips were valuable. In my mind the top two were 1) take action and 2) get over yourself.
    Taking action is a consistent message in your work, and many others, and it is simple. However it is sometimes the hardest thing to do, yet most effective. Many great statements involve the same principle (idle hands/devil’s workshop: if you ain’t trying you’re dying; rolling stone…). As I said, it is simple yet most effective and you consistently deliver that message. Kudos!
    The second tip of “get over yourself” is what I call “Tony Soprano’s Mom”. In one episode when Tony Soprano is pleading with his mother about something she looks at home and sneers “What makes you think you’re so special?”. Result was Tony was stopped dead in his tracks. I have brought that sneer to mind many times over the years and it never fails to a) stop me in my tracks and b) make me laugh. The concept ties in with being humble which ultimately leads to being grateful. Again, you have done an outstanding job in this article and others sharing and developing these concepts.
    I will confess that I have been a fan of your work and your company’s online content for sometime now. Like many others probably have, I came across your company’s work while researching eCommerce/importing. I was shocked at the amount of valuable information provided and fascinated with the comments and communication in the Comments sections. Although I cannot prove it, I suspect there a more than a few “silent admirers” of your work out there much like myself.
    I am not of your generation. In fact, I am pretty sure I have kids around your age. I am a 53 year old husband, father of 8, grandfather of 2, retired trial attorney and now an Ecommerce entrepreneur in a family business. Please know that your website and articles played a significant part in getting us to where we are today. I have personally enjoyed your articles and appreciate the depth of your examination and thought. Well done. well done indeed.
    In closing, I hope you remember to place this in your “praise file” as it is well earned in terms of praise and good karma. Thank you again for the article and the hard work. Keep it up!
    Best regards,
    Manager | Blu & Red (

  • Ajay

    Great post Kyle! The crux is getting started with what you want from life. Might fail but that is not the end.

    Do you have more articles like these for people who are wanting to take the plunge into entrepreneurship but holding back. Would love to read.

  • I’ve got to find that episode of The Sopranos you’re talking about… that made me laugh! Spot on, too.

    Love the “devil’s workshop” expression too.

    Thanks a ton for the kind words–I just took a screenshot for the praise file 🙂

    Most of all, thank you for letting us know that this site has been helpful. It’s easy to see traffic numbers and assume that nobody is putting the stuff to use (except the people in paid programs, I can see what they do!). So to see the business you’re building and knowing that we’ve had a small part in that makes me feel great.

    Please feel free to email/comment any time.

    Best wishes,

  • Katy L

    Hey Kyle,

    Great post! always love your stuff 🙂

    I’ve avoided starting my own business. Ironically I help young people under 25 start their own business but i haven’t taken the leap myself! I just hadn’t found the thing i wanted to start and now that i have (after some useful tips from yourself and others) i’ve started to think I don’t know what i’m doing, especially not compared to other people out there. The Icarus Deception changed everything for me and i’ve been building up to getting things started. Your post just gave me the final kick i need. No excuses you are right it’s a case of get over yourself and just do it.

    Your post is definitely going to be one i come back to again and again so thanks for sharing it.

    ps i regularly share your stuff with all the start-ups i help so thanks for making my job easier and thanks on behalf of them too 🙂

    • Great Katy! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. None of us really know what we’re doing… most startups that raise millions of dollars still fail… most movies aren’t hits… the highest-paid CEOs can tank companies.

      All we can do is learn as much as we can and keep trying things.

      I love The Icarus Deception, one of my favorite Godin books.

      Thanks so much for sharing this with startups. Sharing is honestly one of the highest compliments we can get. So THANK YOU! I’d love to know what startups you share them with if you’re willing.

      Godspeed! I hope you let us know when you launch your business 🙂

  • Rory

    Excellent and helpful article which I shall reread. Now I’ll get on with things.

    Thank you Rory

  • Hi Kyle, I took the Spring 14 StartUpBros online class. Yesterday I read “5 Levels of Entrepreneurship”. Today I took inventory of the 60 items I have purchased and not posted yet on Ebay. I will have my first item posted on Ebay within 3 days. It took a while. Now I’m taking action.
    Phil Gerardo

    • Congratulations, Phil!! Can’t wait to see how quick your inventory sells out 😉

  • AMAZING article. Despite having a hugely successful year I have still been feeling TONS of anxiety & fear (even more than the startup phase). This articulates exactly why and now I can work on releasing these unfounded fears and enjoy the successes. Many thanks for writing this article. I’m sure it’s something many of us feel.


    • Thank you for the kind words. I’m grateful that you’re here!

      I love your site too, great products! My mom is starting a bag line, it sounds like a similar style to what you’re making. Would you be interested in chatting?

  • Danny

    Kyle does it again! Love it, love it. This post and the other about being antifragile r so true. Every day Imposter Syndrome whispers n my ear that I am different, no one is interested n my self employment, the only thing keeping me afloat is luck, I should get a job and b just like everyone else.

    • Antifragility FTW!

      Every day indeed, every day every day.

      It says “luck” but you’re the one that keeps pushing 😉

  • Love that CS lewis quote.

    Also #4 is insane. I’ve done hat myself since a few days ago, and now you’re writing it. funny

    “Faking things actually does work.”
    — Indeed. Powerposing is for real

    • #4 came straight from Austin Kleon. His books have a surprising amount of fresh insights.

      It’s strange how real powerposing is lol.

  • “To me ultimately martial arts means honestly expressing yourself.” – Bruce Lee
    “I have no idea what I am suppose to do … I only know what I can do” – Captain Kirk

    • That second quote is MONEY!!

      It’s awesome to see you around Eric! I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to

  • Luke

    Jesus, this article was awesome and weird for me to read.

    I know this feeling all too well and could never put it in to words – it’s limited me from going ahead with business ventures all the way to not making posts on forums in fear of being called out and not having any real world experience to back up my posts even if I just wanted to help.

    It’s weird though – number twenty really hit me. I actually said the exact words ‘I feel like a fake’ when in a very emotional argument/conversation with my girl only a week or two ago. And yes, she even laughed at me a couple times for it.

    Weirdly I’ve started doing things – maybe it has something to do with that conversation I had with her.

    But I’ve finally started taking action in my business and although it’s just the start, it’s more action than I’ve taken in a long long time.

    I also started contributing in my forum of choice a couple days ago – albeit only a little, but I’ve been receiving praise by established members for contributing value.

    It’s so weird to stumple upon this article that is something I’d never thought of but can relate to so much. I appreciate this article an incredible amount and will be re-reading when I’m fresh in the morning to make sure I’ve digested it all.

    • Thanks Luke! See you in the morning 🙂

      Congratulations on taking action in your business!

  • Kyle, you need to quit sneaking into my mind and reading my thoughts. One, it’s creeping me out; and two, when you expose my inner most struggles and so many people other people relate, you make me feel like my “issues” are unoriginal — which hurts my pride.

  • Jeromw

    This is the first time ever I comment on a blog post.

    I have to say, I needed this article more than anyone here. I’m a self taught video production one man show. I sometimes feel that I’m impostor, and lower my fees seeing that I did not receive any hands on training or certificates like other companies have in their offices.

    You just gave me hope, seeing that I’m not the only one feeling like this.

    I love this article, I’m reading this again.

    Thank you….

    • I’m so glad this is helpful for you.

      Try this experiment: for your next gig, double your price.

      Nobody hires you for your certificate, just for you and the work you make. Kubrick wasn’t trained. Nolan wasn’t trained. Neither did Tarantino… it’s about making badass work.

  • Wow,
    I literally used to feel the same way but didn’t know what it is called.
    Now I do.
    Excellent tips to overcome it.
    I loved #12. “You’re going to die”
    Whenever the fear stops me from doing something, I say it to myself. It has helped several times.
    *Feeling better that I am not the only one suffering from this. 🙂

    • Sometimes it’s easier to kill something if we give it a name 🙂


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  • Peter

    I’m in my last year of university right now. I had plans of going into grad school since my dream is to become a university professor – something about engaging people is amazing in my eyes.

    However, I have had major depression since this September, and since I feel like dropping out of school. I am terrified of approaching professors or talking to them about carrying on with academia since I feel like I do not belong here.

    I’m seeing a therapist, and keep a journal. The part about “getting over yourself” and “just acting” are my biggest hurdles right now. You article gives me some hope though.

    • Hey Peter, good luck! I hope you don’t drop out–if that is really the right thing for you to do you can do it later when it’s coming from a place of strength.

      • Peter, I read your comment and wanted to tell you that it will get better. I cannot give you exact details of what has happened in my life but one thing that has helped me tremendously is “the next 15 minutes”. What I mean is when my focus is not where it is supposed to be – on myself. in the past or in the future – I give myself a “brain slap” (think 3 Stooges) and simply figure out what I am going to do in the next 15 minutes and get started on whatever it is immediately. Sometimes I will reset that “next 15 minutes” every 5 minutes until I get moving. Eventually I do move and I do get things done. “Semper Ad Meliora” (Always Towards Better Things) is the last tattoo I got to remind me that it will get better – and it does!
        As I said, hang in there and it will get better. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Peter I think it’s amazing that you are receiving the help you need instead of complaining about your depression but not doing anything about it.

      I understand why you’ve been held from your achievements but what’s the worst that could happened – at least you would of tried. I’m sure the professors you’re are afraid to approach felt just like you at some point. Consider reading up on the history of the professors you admire the most – You’ll soon find a vulnerable side that you don’t see everyday, but that you can connect with.

      Lastly, why would you feel you don’t belong? It’s your dream and you deserve it just as much as anyone else. It sounds like you a have a fear of success. Wikipedia can explain it better than I can…

      I hope this helps

      Good luck


      • I hadn’t heard of the Jonah Complex before… it’s great though. Such a perfect visual!

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  • Simon

    I’ve had three jobs since I graduated back in 2012 and at all three places I’ve suffered from imposter syndrome. I feel like I don’t belong and that I don’t know what the hell I am doing. This article is definitely an inspiration and it’s comforting to know that there are others out there who go through the same thing!

    • You’re obviously doing something right if you’re still at one of them!

  • Chris Stewart

    What a great article. So often I compare my work to others who appear more successful than I. A friend at work would often remind me that NO ONE knows what the hell they’re doing and we’re all just making it up as we go along! Just focus on your successes and learn from your failures.

  • Ross

    I spent 20 years working for the same company, worked my way up from a computer operator, to an entry level programmer position and eventually managed a team of 10 software engineers. The entire time I felt like an impostor. I didn’t have a degree like so many others and I knew that didn’t hold me back. I was respected by my staff, by my management team, but I never let myself enjoy the success I had. I was an impostor. Someday “they” would realize that I was a fraud. When that day came and our positions were eliminated in favor of outsourcing, how that little demon delighted in telling me “I told you that some day they would figure out that you didn’t belong.”

  • Kt

    It’s so easy for us to tell ourselves that we don’t know things, but of course we do! This blog post came into my life as an affirmation of feelings stirring within me. Thank you for sharing!

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  • James

    What of the people who move forward in their respective fields to the detriment of others? People who actively cheat, lie, and scam their way to the top? Surely, that doesn’t apply here right?
    One easy example is when an artist traces art and presents this work as their own in professional portfolios. Or a developer who present slightly tweaked premade templates in their portfolio.
    When I bring this topic of “impostor syndrome” and how some people feel it’s okay to fake it to the detriment of others, I can’t find myself excusing THESE specific situations. I love this article and would like to know what you think of situations like this where people move ahead in a toxic way.

    • Hey James,

      I pointed to this with the psychologist cartoon. I don’t want to make too much of a moral judgment here. We are all delusional to some extent about our capabilities–there is no way to know the upper limit of our potential. We have to believe in something that doesn’t currently exist in order to create the future.

      You’re not talking about that though, you’re talking about the assholes. And yeah, they are the ones that SHOULD feel like impostors… and maybe they do, they’re just comfortable feeling that way.

      When you mention portfolios I think you get into fuzzy territory (I’m assuming the artist change it in some large way). “Great artists steal”, Bob Dylan’s first album was full of covers, and everything is a remix:

      Basically, unless you are DIRECTLY harming another, I think it’s safe to steal stuff and make it your own. That’s what you do even if you don’t notice it. That being said, I like to say where the ideas are coming from that I’m stealing.

      Again, the lines get blurry. The 80/20 rule will take us far here–if we’re not obviously an impostor then we should free ourselves from feeling like one. We should trust ourselves to be good.

  • Throughout my whole life, I have loved writing. I always wanted to be an author or even a journalist – but never went through with it because (this is what I told myself) there is no place for these occupations in South Africa.

    At this precise moment, I realized that I have been lying to myself. If I became an author or a journalist, I’m sure I would have been able to find work. I just suffered from the impostor syndrome as well as the fear of failing and not being good enough.

    I can’t believe it took me so long to realize this.

  • john

    Damn, didn’t even know impostor syndrome was a thing! Every point resonated with me and gave some perspective, Great article thats given me a great start to the day!

    Half the time I avoid just being myself because I do not want to let me parents down!

    • I’m glad this could boost your day a bit 🙂

      I bet your parents would be happy for you if you stopped avoiding being yourself

  • I haven’t started my own freelance writing company, because I feel like I can’t. Because I feel like I can’t write for sh*t and my spelling is absolutely appalling (I had to look up that word in order to know how to spell it). I feel like I can’t make it with my own freelance business, because I just can’t and get rejections everywhere I try to send a pitch to. So to me this feels like ‘surely there must be something wrong with me… rigth?!’

    • Hi Luthien,

      It sounds like this might be as simple as studying better copywriting techniques and practicing. We all have to look up dumb words lol.

  • Memjay

    I have just read this post off the back of spending my lunch break crying to my partner on the phone, about how I feel as though everything in my life is fake, that I don’t deserve anything, and that it’s all going to get ripped out from under me at any second when I get “found out” for god knows what. And now, after reading it, I am sitting here reflecting on all the times in my life (past and present) that I have fallen prey to Imposter Syndrome (also feeling like a fake for writing that, but I digress). I was recently given a part in a musical after 7 years out of the game, and in my mind it was because I’m friends with the pianist, not because I earned it out of 100 other people auditioning; I have been running my own business for the last 18 months, and keep thinking that someone is going to come and get me, and expose me as a big fake/fraud, and lock me up or something; Feeling that my parter doesn’t actually love me, because he has “no reason to” or only loves an idea of me that I’m actually not; Going to meditation, and sharing an experience, all the while thinking that I must have just made it up, and that I’m faking receiving some kind of enlightenment; Feeling that the only reason why my partner is with me, is because it’s the easy option, and I pursued him, like he’s settling with me; Not answering business enquiries, because I’m not good enough to be in business, let alone take people’s money, and someone will expose me soon; Feeling the need to change my name on here, because what if someone finds this, and exposes my imposter syndrome, and then I’m caught out – then subsequently feeling as thought I’m faking having imposter syndrome, and that I’m just after some sort of attention; Not finishing my degree, because I think I’m not that smart, and that I would be caught out if I tried; Having an anxiety attack at the prospect of going back to Tafe, because I might fail; Not answering enquiries to an ad I HAD LISTED MYSELF to start a band, because these people are so much more talented than me, and my ad was all bravado, and I’ll be exposed as crap if we actually meet up to jam.

    There are countless other instances, but these are just the ones that have swam into my head now.

    I don’t know if I feel better, or feel sick (or feel like I’m faking feeling sick) now that I know that there is actually some sort of name to how I feel EVERYDAY (or am I exaggerating there???)

    But at least the knot in my chest seems to be dissipating, and I feel as though the crazy is receding, ever so slightly.

    I guess acknowledgement is the first step to getting better.

    Thank you.

  • Kyle- This is terrific. Imposter syndrome is so pervasive.

    I just interviewed a Silicon Valley CEO, incredible success story, for a book I’m writing. His first company ended up being worth almost $400 million, and while it was growing, he kept feeling like he wasn’t capable of running it, to the point that he brought in another CEO to run the company.

    Second time around, he stayed running the company. It just filed to go public for over $1B.
    My takeaways- learning and experience do help; you’re better than your brain wants to give you credit for, life does offer “do-overs.”

  • Awesome article, pretty much sums up most of my short-term thoughts and temporary blocks.

    I have trouble with the whole “I shouldn’t blog or continue forward because other people are already doing it and DOING IT BETTER than I ever could” syndrome. This can also relate to the not deserving “piece of the pie” disillusion example. Where someone might think that there is no pie left for them or they have no business to be there in the first place as a member of the whole pie (industry, art, product market, lemonade stand, ect.)

    Also, one of the BIGGEST negative scripts that I keep running through, especially after working for a few larger companies (Hilton, Disney) is that there must be some level of “officialness” or proven processes in order to do something. It’s almost like I’ve lost my childhood senses of exploration or ability to build new or trust safety nets that are not yet there, weak/unfinished, not even necessary in the first place.

    For example, I need to have an official folder or document for where we will list potential clients or leads. Then, they must be entered into the CRM or project management system a certain way. Shortly thereafter, we must contact them to sign a specific form in order to get access to their login credentials, ect. We must send over reports of our work in this particular fashion.

    I could go on and on from this example, however in the end I have learned that it is a mild case of OCD or “The Product is Never Good Enough” that holds back the whole operation.

    F### It, Ship It.

    I think that an entire article can be written about just these incompetencies or mental blockers that others feel. Thank you for allowing me the time and forum to let out some internal thoughts my friends 🙂


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  • Mark K

    Thank you. Helped verbalize stuff that’s been in my head, sort between my bs and others’ bs. I will need to return to this again for some consecutive days I imagine.

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  • richard

    i feel like a fraud because i want to build my own web app from scratch i have to quadruple check every fact and relearn the same basic code over and over, i will build and release my app but i didn’t earn the right because i cant be recognized like a person with a degree

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  • Kat

    I have avoided graduating from grad school and have worked minimum wage jobs while a lot of my peers have jobs with more responsibility that I would also like to have. I feel like I will never have a career that is meaningful, although I will likely be graduating at the top of my class at a top 19 school in a graduate program. I feel like I don’t know how to do anything and at times, this has led me to severe depression and feelings of disempowerment. I am recognizing this and telling myself that I am capable– and then am going to apply for my dream jobs. I would love to be a journalist, entrepreneur, writer, and healer– somehow melding all of these areas… but I don’t know how to start. I must not be afraid to start somewhere.

  • Jasmin

    Your article really cheered me up. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve chalked up my success to me getting lucky or people giving me a break. There are a lot of things I should have celebrated but never have because I didn’t think I earned them. I’ve held back on doing many things because I think I’ll fail or people will realize that I have no idea what I’m doing. Even in relationships I fear the people I care about most will wake up and see me for who I really am and leave. No one should live thinking like that, so I’m going to give your 21 steps a try starting with what I’ve avoided. The biggest thing I have avoided is taking risks and going outside my comfort zone. I always feel like a fake when I try to do something that’s completely different from my character or interests. I tell myself that I shouldn’t be doing “x” because I’ve never done it, so I have no business doing it. This doesn’t happen with every new thing I do, only with some things. Anyway, I’m going to do something that’s outside my comfort zone, and I will stick with it. I’m really glad I found this article. I think it even inspired me to get writing again. 🙂 Thanks.

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  • IGV

    Not sharing this article to avoid telling the world I am suffering the Impostor Syndrome.

    Not applying to a certain job because someone I know already works there and I don´t want to prove to her I am not as smart as she is…

    I found number 5,9 and 19 the most refreshing to read.

    • Hey IGV,

      I hope after you wrote that you decided to apply for that job 😉

  • Meike

    Hey Kyle,

    I stumbled upon the term impostor for the first time today and after I found your great article I started to mind map the whole thing in German – just to make sure I get it in my head 🙂 Very good collection of advice and I can relate to most of it.

    I am a singer/songwriter struggeling to find my new “me”, finishing all the songs I have started, going out there and finding me a great producer for my next album. The latter is what I definetely should do next. I tried it with one person I know and I felt belittled the way he talked about my new songs (“well, they sound like you, mh..”) and it hit me, when he told me about his price – impossible. “Funny” thing about it: I never really wanted to work with him in the first place, I only did it for trying out how it feels. But then it got me down anyhow.
    Now working through your article helps me to find a new perspective. I felt terrible the last two times I had an album release – now I understand how stressed I was and for what reasons…! I remember telling a friend about it: Look at my shiny homepage, it’s all a hoax!! It’s good to give it a name now. Although it also feels to me, as you stated in your first sentences: <> Let’s see where it goes from here! Thanks!!

  • What I’m feeling today. Because I know I’m gonna get the black and white piece of paper for my promotion.

    Which I absolutely think I do not deserve.

    • But you do in the eyes of the person giving you the promotion. Maybe they have a more clear perspective on this than you do 😉

  • Pete


    I’ve always felt like an imposter in my programming career. Never as good as anyone else & it’s the type of industry where you just don’t get mentoring or apprenticeships. You are just supposed to ‘hit the ground running’. Plus the type of personalities you get in this industry “oh that guys an idiot because he didn’t know x”.
    Thanks for writing.

    • Hey Pete, that is a crazy profession. So much mixing of science and art and oddly huge personalities.

      I didn’t know about the forces you mentioned, thank you. I hope this has helped you deal with them.

  • nene

    After reading your blog today i dont feel alone. In fact I feel kind of silly for thinking all this time I was a fraud. My issue is I want to start a business. In my mind I say.. Your not an entrepreneur. I find comfort..that its ok to try.

  • Brian J

    Hi Kyle,
    I’m 51 and have experienced this phenomenon many times since I was 29. The first time, at 29, was like an out-of-body experience.
    At that time, I was managing a small residential construction premanufacturing plant. My duties also included all design/drafting and sales. As well, I was operating my own design and drafting firm in my free time.
    The owner of the plant was in another part of the country developing busines so I was on my own for 4 months. During that time, I increased revenue by 50%.
    When he returned we met with a prospective investor.
    We were all sitting at the boardroom table and I was asked what I felt were the strengths and weaknesses of the company. While considering my answer I experienced a physical sense of shrinking in my chair to the size of a 6 year old and thinking ‘Don’t they know I’m just a little kid?’
    I’ve had a few similar experiences, not of that magnitude, since then.
    I went on to operate my Architectural Design firm, on my own, for 6 years.
    For the last 16 years my wife and I have been provincially bonded upper scale residential new home and renovation General Contractors. Sounds great, lots of ups and downs, especially with the recession. We made it through it all and started to see a profit again last year. Yay!
    2 1/2 months ago, December 16, 2014, we had an unscrupulous and devious customer tell us that he was not going to pay us for $110,000 of our workmanship and material. This devastated our company and our self confidence.
    As an entrepreneur, I have been spending most of all of my hours, everyday, online, reading and listening to other’s knowledge and experience so that I can pick myself up again and start over.
    I have been so very encouraged and enlightened by your writing, Kyle. You are a very wise and courageous young man.
    Thank you for what you’ve given us.

    • Thank you for the kind words and your story Brian. I think the comments on this post are worth more than the thing itself… so many dealing with the same thing.

      If there is anything we can do to help with your business just let me know.

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  • Sal

    Hi Kyle! Thank you for this post, now I don’t feel so alone and stupid anymore. “It’s just Impostor Syndrome.”

    I have never tried marketing myself (I make websites) because most of the times I feel like a fraud, that I’m not an expert. Well, It’s Just Impostor Syndrome. Thank you so much.

    I have blogged about it though….

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  • Kacy

    Awesome read. I got so much out of this. I feel like an imposter on a minute to minute basis. The strange thing is that I can remember a time when I felt the opposite of that. It’s funny because I’m basically the same person just MORE experienced. There’s this pressure to think that you have to have degree after degree or accolades and trophies to feel like you know anything well enough to inform people or sell them on your opinion. It seems like whomever has the loudest voice or most commanding presence is the smartest guy in the room.

    I will be using the term Imposter syndrome from now on!


    • Hi Kacy,

      You reminded me of this quote I like a lot from Steven Presfield’s Gates of Fire: “My wish for you, Kalistos, is that you survive as many battles in the flesh as you already have fought in your imagination. Perhaps then you will acquire the humility of a man and bear yourself no longer as the demigod you presume yourself to be.”

      I think that’s the foundation of Montaigne’s idea of wisdom as kind of learning the severe limits of your life as you age and dealing with them upright.

      You’re certainly more capable than you’ve ever been 😉

  • Jason

    Thank you for this fantastic post! I am a software developer and you have helped me to put a name and strategy around my anxieties that have bothered me for over 10 years. Plus another great post on that deals specifically with software dev. I am bookmarking both posts and have read them about 10 times each in the past two days. I especially like your comments about always adding value, and that people sometimes don’t get it right; in software, working right is expected, therefore I take bugs in my code very hard. It is challenging, but I can see that my work adds MORE value and has LESS bugs than others, which conflicts with my “don’t compare yourself to others” view. Comparing myself to myself only shows me what mistakes I made, and your article makes me think harder about accepting my mistakes as a fact of life and not an indication of the overall quality of my contribution. Thank you for publishing this!

    • Jason, it’s really interesting how many developers have commented here. I had no idea of the situation. It seems from the outside much different, but I can understand now how that can push impostor syndrome on you. Thanks!

  • Kez

    Thanks Kyle,
    You’re so F-ing right. We will be so regretful on our deathbeds for all the stuff we didn’t have the balls/ovaries to do in the past. Pain weighs ounces, regret weighs tonnes. I’m an optometrist of 2yrs who has spend everyday reading articles, buying internet marketing products etc you name it. I even started a seminar business with a friend which went well but we didn’t have a second event as it fizzled out. All of this lack of action is due to imposter syndrome. Thank you for showing me what it was all along.
    Now, to make that website I’ve been putting off for 2 years…

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  • Laurel

    I haven’t been participating in my online school at all because I’ve been suffering from Impostor Syndrome. Everyone else on there (I think) is that hippy, sustainable, kombucha-drinking, yoga dancer. Meanwhile, I’m a fat, lazy, depressed woman who would love to be a hippy but can’t seem to ever FEEL like one.
    How I’m going to work on getting over it? I’m going to start participating. Even if it exposes me as someone who isn’t as knowledgeable as I’d like to be. Even if it means feeling like an idiot. Just being part of the group and being accepted and hey! maybe knowing a thing or two that someone else didn’t would be nice. 🙂

    • Thanks for starting by participating here 🙂

      I love that — “…who would love to be a hippy but can’t seem to ever FEEL like one.”

      I bet you’re working toward that kind of feeling now

  • Annabelle

    Thanks for your article, Kyle. I think I’m definitely suffering from I.S.

    I’m a high school dropout who later ended up doing a weird set of undergrad and grad degrees. I’ve always felt deep down inside that I succeeded because I chose unusual blends of pursuits, thus evading direct comparison with others. Next month I’m teaching a masterclass to some of the world’s brightest PhDs. I don’t have a doctorate myself and I really feel that I don’t deserve to have those brilliant people listen to what I have to say. I find it hard to believe that I could know something they don’t, despite the fact that they’re planning to attend my lecture of their own free will. 🙁

    I’m the only person at my firm without a PhD and I work double the hours because I’m scared that if I don’t churn out amazing work all the time, someone will realize I’m a terrible fit for my career.

    • Hi Annabelle,

      Thanks for writing this. I’d love to know what you’re presenting on.

      I can relate to your mixed up education. I’ve done something similar on purpose but easily forget the value of the unique combination when faced other more traditionally respected pools of knowledge.

  • Yeah, thanks for this article. Before reading this article, I told myself “This is the year I start taking chances on acting. I won’t know until I try.” And I’ve been taking various acting classes for the past three years but haven’t felt good enough. In fact, my past is littered with self sabotage because I felt I wasn’t good enough.

    A month ago, I got cast in a feature, and now it’s kind of a daily battle to overcome this feeling that I’m an imposter actor. If only I’d gone to school for acting. If only I’d started earlier. If only I was more talented. The tape goes on.

    All I can say, is that today was a pretty rough day but I know part of the battle is cutting the tape off, and for some reason, between reading your article and others comments, I feel better. More precisely, I feel less alone, and realize whenever I’m feeling unworthy or untalented, it’s just as unhealthy as having too big an ego.

    So, I guess all of that is to say, thank you.

    • Congrats on getting the part! Even bigger congrats on taking the leap 🙂

      The whole production isn’t on you, there’s a ton of people needing to perform their part. I play with film a bit and remembering that helps me a lot. That and trying to respect the character enough to get out of me and into him. I’m not a pro though, there are probably much better actor-specific techniques.

      You’re the man, thanks for contributing your story. You actually made me realize that the comments here have probably become more valuable than the article. I just added an update saying so 🙂


  • Meesh

    It was a relief to read about such successful people feeling the way I feel. Tina Fey’s comment about swinging between egomania and feeling like a fraud? Sounds like my highs and lows to a “t.”

    I just don’t know how to tell how much is genuine imposter syndrome and how much is me needing to work harder and do a better job. You think when you reach adulthood you “figure it out” but with my mid 30s looming ahead, I feel so far behind!

    I teach and I worry, everyday, that I’m failing these kids because I don’t meet the expectations of my administration, or because they struggle on standardized tests. I know what I need to do to improve but I’m also exhausted everyday and feel like “faking it” is the only way to keep my head above water. But how long can I fake it before my students really start to suffer academically. What if I am one of those horrible teachers that the masses are talking about when they say teachers are the reason for a failing education system? When my friends or family point out my desire to be good, or the strong bonds I have with my students, are proof that I am a good teacher, all I can think is “you aren’t in the classroom with me! You don’t know how behind I am!”

    How can you tell if it’s just your own mind messing with you versus actual inability?

    • I don’t think you CAN tell unless there is an objective way to measure your progress. That’s the stuff that you just have to trust yourself to do your best on…

  • #16 is the money maker in my mind. JUST TAKE ACTION. It’s all a mindset game and know one knows what they are doing until they do it.

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  • Dianne

    Wow suits me to a tee! It’s saddens me that I have this fear and I do believe I’ve missed a lot of opportunities because of it. I quit high school in grade nine (currently in my fifties) then two yrs later did adult basic upgrading, 12 yrs later did a 2 yr college diploma in Economic Development. Completing this diploma was intense and included a lot of university courses, final marks was straight “A” ,s. I’ve been highly successful initiating and completing a wide variety of projects over the yrs but have always had a fear that ppl would just see me as a high school drop out. I’m also an extraordinarily good singer and have received many standing applause over the yr’s yet I cannot understand nor accept that I have such a gift unless I’m singing solely for myself.. Wow this article gave me some great insight! Thankyou

    • These kind of challenges are so crazy… thanks so much for your story.

      It makes me want to hear you sing!

  • Aegus

    Hi Kyle,

    This is a very very very cool article,
    I run the commercial team for an online tech company and used to be in advertising before this and have been living with this feeling for a while.
    I feel like i have the whole process and way forward in my head but when it comes to actually putting it down in the form of a presentation or on words i get stuck and it makes question whether i’m good enough, there is this lingering feeling that I am not supposed to be where i am.

    Do you have any tips to combat this ? The article made my day and have bookmarked it so i can go back every time i have this feeling.

    Thanks for putting this together and stay awesome.

    Cheers !!!!

    • Aegus!

      This whole article was about how to combat impostor syndrome!!

      The fact that you asked just highlights how hard it is to actually DO these things.

      You already commented, that’s one thing. Pick another and try it now.

      Usually it comes down to:

      1. Recognize it, then push into it.
      2. Force yourself into a situation where you’re distracted enough you can’t think of it. (Intense deadlines, high-stakes situations…)

  • Anthony

    I feel like a fraud when I am seeking new career opportunities to apply to.

    Great article BTW- I am officially subscribing!

    • That’s probably the most common time it pops up. Glad you liked it!

      And glad to have you in the community 🙂

  • Jaime

    This article is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank you so much for writing it! Very well written.
    With that said, I have been wondering for years what the hell my problem is. I had no idea it had a name as well as others that feel the same. I would like to call myself an artist. But as we all know, I feel like a fraud and that I don’t have the right to call myself one. I’ve done art for years anywhere from drawing, writing, photography, interior decorating and my latest passion, digital painting. I never have won any awards or sold any of my work. I have always wanted to market my work but never felt it was good enough and I never knew where to begin. I think maybe I have always felt so fake at it is because I never could just focus on one element. I hop from one project to the next. I over analyze everything and then when I’m done doing that, I lose whatever confidence I had to show it to the world. Hence, self sabbatoging like you said. I know I’m doing it, but I guess it feels safer staying in my bubble than it would to expose what I’ve created, especially when I see other work that just blows mine out of the water!
    But reading this has given me some hope and insight that I’m not alone and I can fix this. But only if I can gather the guts to do so. When you stated that authenticity is a hoax, that really resonated with me.
    So thanks again for putting this article out there. I really needed this!
    Btw, I lived in St Pete for years, I live just across the bay now in Apollo Beach. Hats off to a fellow Burg member!

    • Hats off to you too Jamie! I’m sure you know St Pete has been filling up with creators recently. Hooking up with some people who can relate to the struggle of needing validation to create would be a huge help.

      I hope you’re willing to share something you make here with us!

      • Jaime

        Kyle, I’m not sure how I could share any of my work to you on here……


        • Always feel free to email at bros at or tweet @startupbros 😉

  • Tim Thompson

    Wow. Thank you so very, very much for writing this. I actually chuckled out loud to several of the quotes/comments you wrote about. “Being found out”…..YES! I’m so grateful for google……..and your article. I had no idea so many felt the same way. The hardest thing for me to accept about me is that the things I know how to do seem so ridiculously simple and logical that how can they be of value if it isn’t “hard” to do?? And, I’m a generalist–I feel like I don’t “fit” into many job descriptions because they sound so SPECIFIC. I don’t have a specialty in the classic “career code/job description” sense of work. I’m done with this demon: YOU have been found out!

    • Hell yeah, Tim!! Generalists have so much to offer… it’s just that it’s harder for people to tell you exactly what that is. We’ve got to do it ourselves

  • Lawrence

    Hi, I’m Lawrence.

    I don’t know when this article was posted, but I hope I am not too late to join in. I am suffering from impostor syndrome since I’m 11 (fifteen years ago.) Its on daily basis, I can occasionally wake up at night because of it.

    First of all, an important point: At school I was good in very specific things and was the worst of all in everything else. Astrophysics always been very easy for me, like alphabet-easy. Yet, I have a hard time writing very simple notes without making many grammar mistakes.

    This made me very depressed, since everything I wanted to do needed abilities I don’t have. Even worst, I felt like a fraud in the few things I am good at. Its still the case. I am aware I have knowledge most people don’t have, but I come up with ridiculous excuses, I actually believe it: “I saw it on tv, I read it in a book or the internet, someone showed me how it worked.”

    I know its ridiculous since… Those sources are pretty much how everybody learned everything they know. Yet, I feel like the knowledge I have are not knowledge to me, they are just information I put in my bag. I saw the documentary, if anyone else see it, they will know what I know, so its nothing. I always felt like learning something has to be difficult, and since I’m talented in the things that interest me, ITS EASY! Worst nightmare, right? While so many struggle to understand the singularity of a black hole, to me its so easy I could write it all down with my toes, so I’m not “really knowing these stuff.”

    I didn’t let the syndrome stop me from trying. I launched a company two years ago, I wrote a book and printed tons of copies. I launched it at a major event where hundreds of thousands of people were going. I sold 600 copies, but that is not the harsh part. I kind of made peace with that. The harsh part is that I got screwed up by my editor, he was a fraud. I ended up with unfinished and uncorrected books coming in a hurry, 3 chapters were missing. You can easily imagine that I blamed myself for not being more careful, not checking the books, for so many things. The reception was 40% good, 60% bad, which is a miracle. Yet, over five thousand copies of a badly written and incomplete book are in a room of my house, my ecenomy vanished and so did my dream of being a writer.

    The thing is, today I start in a new field, I built my resume, but I don’t take credit for what I did. I actually prepare myself for questions they will probably not ask. I feel like a qualified and useful professionnal is someone who successfully completed its project, not someone who failed at it. You hire a cook who can cook, not a guy who burn kraft diner. If I write that I wrote a book, that it didn’t work, that its my fault, that I lost most of my investment… Well, they will see what everyone would see: Someone who doesn’t know what the h*ll he is doing.

    I am unable to actually take this life experience and put it in my bag. To accept it, to say: Those who never try never fail.

    I convince myself that its nothing, that everyone who has a couple of dollars and some ideas can write a book, can register a company. And to be honest, I really feel like anyone with 6000$ can do exactly what I did and fail the same way, or even succeed where I didn’t. I feel the same about every single thing I’m good at, everything.

    I started my research to fix my problem over two years ago, where at first, I was looking for those who have difficulties. Those who have a hard time at school, at work, those who are challenged by very simple things, but nothing matched since my problem was not failure, it was accomplishment. I fell on the impostor syndrome by mistake and realized that it was who I am: Someone who sees all his knowledge and abilities as lower than most human beings.

    I am still aware of my talents, the problem is that I do not consider myself good. Its depressing, I can’t move forward in life, to join a new industry that passionate me, I have been a whole month in front of my resume constantly challenging every aspect of it.

    But here is where it gets interesting:

    I am stuck with another syndrome who is fed by the imposter syndrome. The other syndrome is the emergency of living, feeling like I’m running out of time. As if there was a watch around my wrist ticking until my last breath. I want to have time to do things, to live, to find love, build a family, have a good job, but I’m not as young as I was (yet I barely saw the 80s) and it scares me. I stay away from any schools because I feel like its throwing years of my life away.

    I struggle between my incapacity of feeling any accomplishment and my emergency to accomplish things, quite a mixt right? I’m like the dog chasing its tail. I want the thing I refuse to have. I know I need help with that, but I also know that I am aware of my problems, I am aware of what they are, that they are not real and that there are ways to overcome them. My inner belief is just so strong… Its been my reality so long that its a hole that I can’t fullfil with anything, the only thing thats been there my whole life was this syndrome. I don’t even know what being proud is, even if I felt it at this moment, I wouldn’t be able to tell this is what being proud feel like. The only thing that scares me more than running out of time is to realize that the time I’ve been there, I spent it in a cage.

    Hopefully the long text didn’t stop you Kyle, but unfortunately, in 15 years, its the first time I write or talk about it in anyway to anyone. I really need a way to take this syndrome off the track, my life is waiting for me and I just can’t assume my true potential, my success. Even the smallest word would mean a lot. Thank you.

    • I just read your entire comment Lawrence.

      From what you’ve said, I think I know something that would help. Two things, really. They are meant to shift your focus from anxiety about what you aren’t making or doing to on what you are doing and can do. It’s not going to feel good, not until it’s done.

      You need to commit to one month. If it doesn’t work then you can go back to whatever you’re doing. You just need to promise yourself that you will follow this regimen for one month.

      1. You do an Input Deprivation week ( After that you are not allowed to watch any TV shows or YouTube videos. ONLY music and reading. And no self-help reading, no business reading, only fiction or technical reading.
      2. You meditate for 20 minutes when you wake up every morning. (Sit down cross-legged, on a pillow.) Focus your attention gently on the sensation of air going into your nostrils and over your upper lip. The point is not to have no thoughts, it’s just to gently bring your awareness back to that sensation whenever you realize it has left.
      3. Journal every night, stream-of-conscious for 20 minutes. You must keep writing no matter what, even if you write “I have no more ideas” over and over, things will come.

      If you do this, I promise that you will have a serious shift in your perspective. You’ll realize when you’re focusing on what others are doing instead of what you are doing and you’ll be able to shift your focus.

      Not many people would do this. But if your problem is serious enough I think a month of trying to fix it is cheap. I hope you go for it.

      • Lawrence

        Hi Kyle, I just started the process (only exception is me coming here to tell you I did.)

        I must admit, its like being an heroin addict. My need to move forward, to be over-productive, to have more time, to accomplish more, to have higher goals all the time is burning like fire in my brain. Surprisingly, its almost painful. I never thought I was addicted THAT much to information. But yes, I am.

        Since my job is on computer and so are my projects, productivity is not an option for this time. But I am very curious to see how it will affect my perception of things by the end of it. I just realized how intelligent my dog was too!

        The only feeling I can compare to not being connected to hundreds of people at all time is when I was a kid and we ran out of gas on a road trip, You are in the middle of nowhere with your own thoughts.

        I will come back. Its the first time I hear about something I never tried before.

        • It’s awesome you’re giving it a go!

          I hope you realize that by the end of this you haven’t actually been unproductive–you’ve just cut out a lot of stuff that feels “busy”. Hopefully you become even more productive by writing, developing, and actually taking action on your most important ideas.

          • The second half of Lawrence’s text, about running out of time along with the imposter syndrom – it is exactly my problem. Never before saw it written down. So good of Lawrence to make that comment here.
            I’ll try your method too. Thank you, Kyle.

  • Marie

    Thanks for this post and challenging us to comment.

    My confessions: Lack of self-confidence is holding me back from moving and growing my career.

    I’m a journalist who wants to change beats. I want to start a blog in my target beat. Some of the biggest blogs on the same topic are so boring to read. But they have thousands of followers! I don’t even bother because I don’t think I could compete with their audiences. I think I’m not a good writer and don’t want to put my writing out there for everyone to read in one place. I’m a professional journalist in the mainstream media for god-sake!

    I am an imposter who wants advice on how to improve. (I’m all about professional development). But sometimes, people interpret this as humble bragging. Trust me, I have nothing to brag about. Comments like this make me afraid to ask for feedback. My cycle of inadequacy continues.

    These thoughts are holding me back from my one dream in life — to move to Europe. If I can’t do a good job in North America how could I do a good job in another country where I know nobody, will be working in my second language, and dealing with a worse job economy?

    Thanks for allowing me to express this. My husband is that one person I can talk to about this. He listens but always says he doesn’t understand why I feel this way.

  • sheryl

    Hey there!! Just read this and it was excellent. I feel like an imposter frequently. I have friends who talk big and an ex who talks even bigger. I help people get healthy and sometimes I wonder what I am doing …. who am I to be helping people? Who am I to want to make more out of my life? I even feel like a mom-poster sometimes to my children.
    Thanks for the chance to say what I needed to.

    • Those people can trick you at first… but you see them, right? Don’t they sound ridiculous? Their big talk isn’t the bar 😉

  • Rachel

    Wow, Kyle, thanks so much for this post! I have always felt not good enough, but only recently did I realize that the name for what I most likely have is Imposters Syndrome. I really liked your statement about authenticity; just because there are different parts to ourselves doesn’t mean we are being any less loyal to any one part. I also liked your suggestion of writing for 30 minutes, I have been feeling really anxious about this, and that helped clear my thoughts a lot. Seeing my irrational thoughts on paper makes it easier to see just how irrational they are!

    For your challenge, one thing I avoid doing is giving people my time to do things, whether hanging out or helping with something, because I don’t want them to have expectations about me only to let them down. However, you are totally right, and this very selfish and is outside of my circle of influence, if I do the best I can. While I don’t want to go out and now overcommitment myself, I do want to try and genuinely help others, like you said!

    Thank you so much Kyle for sharing! It really did help, and gave me back the motivation to be a better me!

  • I’m Not Telling You ;)

    I don’t even know what I haven’t done, my impostor syndrome’s so bad!

  • someone anonymous

    Well! In short, I practice daily imposter syndrome because i refuse to sit myself down and write because i already tried once (took time off from working full time, for six months) and what i wrote ended up being horrible. Then i couldn’t find work for another six months, falling backward in debt instead of forward toward the dream i had: “Im going to be a WRITER!” In short, i almost can’t let myself dream about it anymore. Instead, i work 8:30 – 7 every day with a long commute and am back in the office working world where most people i work with are not very happy. And i feel like this is where i belong. This makes me sad, even though Im aware of the acceptance. I also have imposter syndrome because: the friends I have that I admire and enjoy and love the most, and think are just so neat, i have become so oddly…insecure…reaching out to, because i just dont understand what we can relate on anymore somehow, i just have not done much w/the last 10 years of my life. I am not as funny or fun as i used to be in my twenties. I know im in there somewhere but i rarely come out anymore (figuratively), and even when i do i only have energy for a couple of hours (a cocktail over dinner). But camping? Events? Fun plans with friends? Travling with friends, doing things outside the box? I dont do them anymore. So at the end of the day, I resist fun activities im invited to, avoid big events and dont visit my old job which has lots of people who know me and apparently used to like me way back when. It’s not that im a recluse – honestly – i have some close relationships and a sig other but, I fall more w/in that world of “mid/late 30s where everyone is pairing off”. So one doesn’t really notice, and the truth is that i haven’t just paired off, i avoid people who might like me … im afraid and clam up and can’t think of things to even talk about ! I just become so self absorbed and insecure. Especially around those who know my creative pursuits, my attempts at performing and have at one point, been an old friend. So! Yeah. There it is.
    Now that i read it…sounds super rediculous.

    • You said “I PRACTICE daily impostor syndrome…”

      That’s super intersting because it IS a practice – it’s your degault practice.

      It sounds like you could consciously practice the opposite. Maybe by writing in your journal every day all the things you know are true about you and your life.

  • I don’t even know where to begin on this, but I really enjoyed this post. There are many things I’ve avoided because I have felt like a fraud. Sometimes it was a reality check in recognizing I truly didn’t want to do something or truly lacked the proper skills. Other times it’s simple fear and lack of confidence.
    As a creative, I think lots about “masters” and “imitating the masters.” I recently did an informal poll among my other creative friends about this process and if it gets in the way. They all agreed that imitating the masters was an important part of learning their craft and finding their own voice.
    On further reflection I thought of Beethoven and Shakespeare – undoubtedly masters of their craft. If all subsequent musicians and authors stopped because they “didn’t measure up” to the masters, think of all the wonderful and amazing music and books we would have missed out on! I guess this is #5 on your list.
    So, the children’s books I’m working on may not be as good as a Dr. Suess or a Maurice Sendack, but it will be a different voice that will relate to a different set of people in a different way. This is how I get myself to keep going despite the sometimes crippling fear that creeps into my heart that I have no idea what I’m doing (which, rationally I know is not true.)

    Thanks for reinforcing that!

    • “On further reflection I thought of Beethoven and Shakespeare – undoubtedly masters of their craft. If all subsequent musicians and authors stopped because they “didn’t measure up” to the masters, think of all the wonderful and amazing music and books we would have missed out on! ”

      YES! You’ve got to make in the face of the masters 🙂

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  • Eve

    I really appreciate this post…I am so glad I’m finding out that this imposter syndrome is actually experienced by a lot of people and not just me. I moved to Nyc to make a career in tv but I’ve had a difficult time breaking in and I stopped working on my independent projects because I believed that unless I had a producer title given to me by an employer, my projects wouldn’t be “real” or taken seriously. Now I’ve realized that I don’t have to wait for someone to validate me – as long as I’m producing I am a producer, it doesn’t matter if it’s for an employer or not. I have to be super persistent and confident because if I don’t believe in myself, why would anyone else? Now I feel like I have the keys to the kingdom, and my life is much less anxious and more enjoyable.

    • “as long as I’m producing I’m a producer” – key to the kingdom indeed 🙂


  • Today I have learned what the impostor syndrome is and how much it’s been part of my life. I think it’s been holding me back for a long time – I am young, though, so I hope there’s still time to catch up.
    I’m a female software developer in an all-male team of extremely good and experienced devs. I’ve been working alongside them for about 1.5 years (my 3rd job) but haven’t once been able to shake the feeling that I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as they are, even though I’ve been told on many separate occasions that I was a great addition to the team. I find it hard to talk about work or other programming related topics with them because I’m very afraid I’ll say something stupid and get found out for not knowing as much as they do. I’m not even saying what I do in my spare time when the topic comes up, as I don’t want them to know I’m working my butt off studying, all to shake this nagging feeling that I don’t belong there.
    I’ll try to use the tips you so generously provided to get over it – not easy when you’ve been doing it all your life.

    • Not easy at all… really freaking hard I think.

      If you read the other comments here you’ll find quite a few other software developers. I think you may relate with them.

  • Aleksandra

    Awesome. I actually had tears in my eyes at some points.
    I am going through a bunch of job interviews right now and I often feel that I don’t deserve a job even though I am qualified enough. I think this might help me get over it.

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  • James

    I am genuinely impressed by and grateful for this article. I don’t even know how many times this disorder has held me back but I have always felt it to some degree. It is nice to give it a name. It’s always at its worst when I wake in the morning. I assume most people have it at some point. I travel and meet massively interesting and intelligent people and constantly feel like I am not doing enough and that I haven’t worked hard enough and that I’m not smart enough.
    Every amazing thing I have done and place I have gone I have been passed by somebody who got there first and worked that little bit harder.

    Your article genuinely made me feel better and your steps are all absolutely brilliant. You have a truly impressive set of accomplishments to place in your file with this comment thread and you should rightly feel proud of every one of them. I hope even half of these people can push themselves to something better.

    I wonder how many ripples will spread from the pebble that you dropped.

    There is, of course, the dark side of the cure. That nobody is ever satisfied and that, when we achieve our goals, life kicks us and says that we haven’t done enough and thus we move ahead and become frauds in another avocation. I have almost come to realize that if I don’t feel like an overwhelmed fraud then I am not challenging myself enough.

    Alexander the Great allegedly wept after all his conquest because there was nothing left to conquer.

    I would suggest one more rule that I have yet to learn myself:

    22. breathe and appreciate what you are and where you are even as you plan the next step.

    So many people try so hard to reach the next goal that they don’t have any fun on the way and keep striving for the next big thing. Take chances and put yourself out there and follow every genius step in this article, but don’t forget to appreciate the now.
    Participation in the future is not guaranteed.
    #12 You are going to die.

    • This is great, thank you.

      Alexander wept after his conquests because he never learned to take that breath you’re talking about. Caesar cried because he reached 40 without achieving what Alexander did… it’s a difficult balance: staying uncomfortable enough that you keep growing/progressing/moving yet not getting so uncomfortable you can’t do anything.

      Thanks so much!

  • Anubhav Kumar

    Hi Kyle

    Loved the article. However, its tough for someone suffering to get inspired and kick out his/her habit or dysfunctional thought process just by one lifechanging experience or article.
    Honestly, theres another facet to this imposter syndrome. It may also happen to unsuccessful depressed beings such as myself and that could escalate and expand astronomically.
    Michael from The Office always dreamt of writing his autobiography and naming it “somehow I manage”. Well… mine would probably be “somehow I get by”. Almost like Seinfeld’s George Costanza and Not Kramer since Kramer is always a happy doofus.
    I dont usually get any accolades, and praises arent heard or stored in my memory… yet whenever small get togethers, social events or discussions happen I just remove myself from them. In 27 years of my life, Ive never had a friend or been to a party… when I was young maybe naive I might have hoped for it, however, now in my adult life I just self destructively avoid all form of societal gatherings.
    An article on wikihow suggested for non-deserving people to list out all the accomplishments no matter how minor it may feel. However, when I tried doing that I had an empty pad. Small stuff like me being disciplined and a bodybuilder etc. came in my head, and immediately a bully who i had unfortunately interacted with in school came in my head all the time saying even a dead donkey can do that.
    Seems like that bully image is somehow my negative side. I tells me that whatever I do anyone could do. And sadly, all I do is jump from one company to the next and not gaining any hands on experience on my technology. Thats why I look at people younger than me gaining that experience and when I compare myself to them I go to even darker depression.
    Ive tried psychiatrists/psychologists… and leaving aside the sham it is, I still dont think that getting rid of imposter syndrome or other mental disorders is worth 1000 bucks every 5 minute session I may have for years and years. If time was the answer then I may try leaving it up to the time dragging along hopefully and eventually making me feel deserving of any success.

    • Hi Anubhav, thanks so much for sharing your store. I wish there was something I could say, maybe there is… I don’t know what it is though.

      This is a fundamental shift, not something that the outside world can do to you. Something in your core needs to look out a little. It sounds cheesy, but I feel like you need to love something. Maybe start with a dog. Then one person that you trust yourself to talk to, then one more. Or something.

      You sound maybe depressed too, there’s something that I wrote about a bunch of little things that made it more bearable. Here that is:

      Please let me know how I can help

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  • anonymous

    I avoid trying new things with fear that I will be ridiculed by people to whom I present the ideas or with fear my ideas/thoughts will be rejected and I will not get enough support to execute them.

    I avoided trying for jobs at better places with fear that they will find me as a fraud.

    I shun away from taking new responsibilities, because of fear of failure and fear of me getting labelled as fraud

  • Gina

    2 years ago i took on a new role and did not do quite so well so decided to take a step down a year into it. I’ve spent the last year learning everything I can about it, but have a hard time meeting the expectation of perfection. That’s not my expectation by the way. Everyday I go into work, I feel like a fraud, that I shouldn’t be there because I’m just not good enough…no matter what.

    • Gina,if you look at the BEST performer in your field you’ll find that they aren’t perfect.

      Know that isn’t a quick-fix… but it might be a step

  • Anonymous

    I’ve avoided getting a better job despite all my credentials and accomplishments because I feel like my previous successes were a fluke I didn’t deserve. Or that I subconsciously attained those things without any idea how to really do them, and now I can’t replicate it. I’d rather not try at all than fail and realize I really AM a fraud

    • Even if you fail, you’re not a fraud. You’re just someone brave enough to try to do something they aren’t sure they can. (You know, what anybody who tries anything worthwhile does.)

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  • Mandi

    I ended up in a career in writing that I’m okay with but don’t love. I chose it because my upbringing stressed having kids, even though that’s never been a dream of mine, and I could conceivably write as a stay-at-home mom.

    What I really want is a full-time career doing IT support, which I did in college, but I don’t have the certifications that career needs. I do have some experience from the four years I spent doing it in college, but I feel like it isn’t good enough to get a job doing network technical support I crave. I don’t want to apply anywhere because I feel like nobody would want to take a chance on me. I’ve signed up for a couple IT online courses, but I don’t feel like I’ll ever get to the point I can switch careers.

    • Is there a way you can force yourself to apply? With IT you can really check off the boxes on what you need to know.

  • Jtbuddy

    Dear Kyle,
    My daughter started having these feelings at 8 years old, she is now 13 years old and is making progress.
    Thank you for writing this article because I see that she is not alone. I hope to use some of your strategies and share them with her. She is considered highly gifted but we always attributed her feelings to her IQ. I now see it is a seperate issue especially since she is looked up to by younger middle school girls.
    Thank you and continued success. You have a gift and continue to share it please.

  • Tim

    Wonderful article, just what I needed, looking to face my Monday mornings without fear and dread, at age 62 you’d think I would be sitting back with confidence instead of constantly fearing failure…. when success has been my constant companion throughout my career … as has been depression and fear of being found out to be a fraud… Your article was very validating and helpful, thank you

    • Thank you for your comment. It’s hard to appreciate from where I am that some things really are lifelong struggles, thanks for your continued strength!

  • I can keep this brief, when I was part of a small startup out of Laguna Beach, CA — we were put in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sell our business to another company that were led by a rockstar proven startup leadership team. I was chosen, along with the CEO as being equal in contributions. I didn’t realize how important, I knew it intellectually, but didn’t really understand.

    I chose to join the new business, called Conductiv and was in a unique position to contribute to every side of the business. Imposter Syndrome is definitely the explanation of my behaviors — amongst the team, I felt like the newbie — but not even that, almost unworthy of being part of the team and I was invited and retained a VP title, volunteering to accept a position as a Director. I didn’t know how to step up, because I didn’t feel able.

    Things have changed — for the better — and seeing a presentation on this and then hearing that Google is combating this daily, showed me it’s a very really thing! Finally something that communicates the feelings — condensed, concise and positive.

    Thank you thank you! High Five!

    • This was awesome of you to put out there, really inspiring for others.


  • Jessica

    I couldn’t bring myself to finish my fanfic even though I’m still getting reviews asking for more but that’s not even the worst part, my O’Levels hang on my upcoming Math retake after I failed it and I keep saying it was cos I was sick and I know I was actually sick but I can’t believe it was because I was sick because it had to be because I can bullshit my way through English with an A1 that I definitely didn’t deserve someone must have made a mistake and I feel so guilty for writing that because I just did it again, making myself look victimized because of my “weak physical disposition” which I’m told is real but I don’t believe it because I must just be worse than everyone else and I can’t be brave enough to be honest about being slower than everyone else and my IQ test was a fluke and I have thoroughly squandered every single opportunity I had to be a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, someone in my shoes would have done better but I know that’s not true but I really don’t because I can’t believe it and I’m going to try to actually try to pass my Math this time from now on because I can’t be constantly scared that it’ll ruin the image I have built of myself because there’s nothing to risk because it’s not real, no it is real so I need to be myself and I have no clue how I’m going to go about that actually I do because your amazing post just told me how but I’ll probably just mess up again and I’m just gonna stop here and post before I chicken out and my ego kicks in and stops me and I can’t stop myself for commenting on my own grammar and spelling despite having written this in 2 mins and I feel horrible now for mentioning it, no one needed to see that and no one needs to see this either and I should just stop because this might come back to bite me in the ass another day but I have to do this shit, I’m this close to just deleting everything so I’m just going to stop before I give in

    • Jessica

      I’m so sorry about my previous comment, it’s 4:30am now and I feel terrible about how my comment is going to be on this list, everyone else wrote concisely and I put up that messy thing that looks more reasonably from a 10 year old. If you don’t want it on the comments list, please delete it, I really don’t mind. I would just like you to know that I really appreciate what I have learnt from this post, I will do my best to follow your suggestions and it’s really comforting to know that I’m not alone in fighting this arrogance that I’ve always secretly despised in myself. Thank you. I’ll be sure to share this with my friends in case anyone I know needs it. 🙂

      • Don’t be sorry about it!

        Every story here helps others who’re going through similar things. So THANK YOU for sharing 🙂

      • Danielle

        What you wrote is beautiful! I’ve had so many of the same thoughts you expressed there. Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

        • Jules

          In high school I self-sabatoged all of the sports I played. I use to be really good at softball and I never thought I was at the time. In cross country I never pushed myself hard enough until one winter I pushed myself so hard that it hurt to walk for months. There was something wrong with my knee and I felt like such a failure. I went to physical therapy and realized during that time that I wanted to become a physical therapist. Yeah it was a huge bummer that I couldn’t move forward with running that season but I discovered what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

          Now I’m going to grad school in the fall and I don’t think I’m smart enough or capable enough to become a therapist. I’ve worked really hard and have gotten straight A’s but I still don’t feel like I’m good enough. So silly, but it’s so true. I’m taking time off to focus on myself and regain that self acceptance before the semester begins.

  • Danielle

    I’m not reaching my full potential in so many ways because of imposter syndrome. College was supposed to be a time for me to succeed in ways I haven’t before, to satiate my curiosity, to meet people who share the same excitement about life that I have – but I often opted to stay quiet, to wallow in bed, to dream of a better me instead. I now tell myself, “Next semester. Next semester you’ll be the best in every class and form stronger opinions. You’ll get it next time.”, but I fear that there isn’t a next time for me. I’ll just end up sad and lonely again, like I was for much of last and this semester. I don’t want this to happen though – and there is hope. Thanks for the advice. I shall use it to vanquish this little monster.

    • College is miserable for a lot of people, you’re not alone there at all.

      You don’t need to strong opinions, you just need strength to keep trying your hardest.

      To vanquishing!

  • matilde

    I do not resonate with #1: I do think I’m worth it, and that I deserve it, deserve it all! Why not, otherwise? Why others and not me? But still, sometimes, I do sit and still think I’m faking it, that I’ll be found out, that I’m an impostor. Mainly because my mother always told me: “don’t be a megalomaniac like your father”… but when he died, he kept on repeating “what if… why didn’t I…”. And when I think about all this, I get angry. And anger seems to be the only true emotion, the only real me: because I cannot control it. So, I think I’ll need to explore it and embrace it. Thank you for this post, mx

    • That’s a really interesting idea: anger is real because it’s the thing you can’t control.

      I don’t agree with that totally, it sounds just like you can control your others more?

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  • Emily

    I am so glad I found this article! I recently started dating this guy who is trying SO hard to help me break the cycle and I think these ideas will help us to understand my issues a bit better.
    It’s bizarre because I have confidence in some things. For example, I am willing to admit that I am smarter than the average bear, but these admissions almost make everything else worse. Instead of being proud of my accomplishments, I just say I’m lucky to have been born smart.

    Another issue I deal with is self-sabotage. My mom pointed it out to me recently and it has become glaringly obvious ever since. My fear of being found out actually makes me want to prove to people that I am not worthy. I am afraid people wouldn’t love me if they saw my true self, and so I purposefully act out to show them how unworthy I am. Then, when people love me despite these mistakes or flaws, I panic and think that I’ll have to do something even worse because surely they must have misunderstood the implications of my actions. I can’t make myself believe that if they REALLY knew me, they would still love me.

    Thank you for your insights, I am going to keep reading up on this subject!

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  • Teressa

    Thank you so much for this article. I was referred to the idea of “impostor syndrome” yesterday, after a friend noticed a long string of journal entries of mine that downplayed my successes. I live in extreme poverty, making less than 12 grand a year, and I just can’t bring myself to count “not being homeless” as a success.

    But after reading this article, maybe it is. Or at least, success for poor people. I’m rambling. In any case,thank you so much. These are concrete coping skills I can carry into the future with me. Thank you.

    • It is, every situation is a step up from where we could be and a step down from where we want to get 🙂

  • Ellis Taylor

    Thank you so much for your post, it was really interesting to be able to relate to so much!

    I work as a software developer and in such a digital world I often struggle to see my accomplishments. This first began when I started to struggle at University, asking peers assistance on everything, I’ve never been able to shake that.

    However, it does help to know other people are dealing with the same issues.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks Ellis, I know what you mean about abstraction making appreciating what we do more difficult.

  • Fascinating article- thank you! Why on earth is it so easy to recognise this Imposter Syndrome when others suffer from it, yet not recognise it in yourself??

  • Kristina

    Ooof. My challenge is to even attribute “impostor syndrome” out loud without caveats. Just calling it that makes me feel like a fraud, since it’s typically felt by high-achieving, successful individuals, and I think,”Riiiiight, like I have any right to compare myself to those people.” I can’t even capitalize (or take out of quotes) the words, “impostor syndrome” as that makes it too real and means that I actually believe it.

    The one person I’ve discussed this with, in a moment of deep and dangerous pain, just glossed over it and told me I was wrong. I’m at least confident enough to say that he was wrong: Impostor Syndrome fits me to a T, has since I was a child.

    I’m not sure I’m quote succeeding in this challenge, so I’ll have to come back another time and try again.

    Thank you for this, Kyle.

    • I think you quote succeeded… but that doesn’t matter unless you do 😉

  • Danny

    I’m starting a business and I didn’t have a suit to go and see clients in. I went to the suit store, put on the suit, when I looked in the mirror I just saw a child. I feel like I don’t “look” like someone who can be taken seriously in a suit, even though I want to make a good (and professional) first impression. Non the less, I bought the suit and I’m still going to go out and give it my best!

  • Jess

    I’m a grad student working on my doctorates to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I feel like a fraud all the time. I’ve been a nurse for 6 years and ffeel like I’ve just “gotten by” somehow without people finding out I have no idea what I’m doing. I especially feel this way now that I’m in grad school. I’m terrified that I don’t remember any of what I’m learning and that nobody should trust me to prescribe medications for them. I have a 3.6 GPA and still feel like I’ve somehow “gotten by” and tricked the teachers into thinking I know the material. When I ask my fellow classmates about a question I have in class they can all spurt off the answer without even referring to the book, which only makes me feel worse. I feel like I’m going to be the worst nurse practitoner when I graduate next May and I’m terrified of it.

    • Jess, if you haven’t, I would reach out to an experienced doctor that you respect and tell him about this. I promise you that experts at every level will suffer some level of this–especially in a field like medicine where nobody does know what they’re doing. There are so many unknowns. Honestly I think your questioning attitude will do better than an overly confident one.

  • Rheannon

    Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here goes…

    I’ve been in my field for 13+ years and feel like I have faked my entire way through. The feeling ebbs and flows, and today, the feeling is definitely flowing.

    I was contacted about 2 weeks ago to be one of the lead scientists on a huge, 7-year, $5.8 million project. When I received the phone call, I was extremely excited, but the more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking, “I can’t do this”, “there are many more qualified people than me.”

    So, in an act of self defeat, I contacted the guy who called and asked me to be a part of the project this morning . I gave him the name of someone I feel is more qualified and told him there wouldn’t be any hard feelings if I wasn’t chosen to be a part of the team. I definitely don’t want someone else to be chosen. This project means a lot to me; it’s the project I’ve been waiting to be a part of my entire career!

    After giving what I had done some thought, I typed in my search bar “what to do when you feel you’re not good at your job”. Lo and behold, I learned about the impostor syndrome, the phenomenon described me to a tee! My further investigation brought me to your page and I bookmarked it so that I can read it anytime these feelings flow. Thank you for this.


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  • Brendan

    I dropped out of college because the risk and costs of failing were too high, that and if I did fail I would be “seen through”.

  • Philda

    I am a very likeable person. I am ‘open’, friendly, charming and very helpful, but I do (did) feel like I am (was) faking it. Being so friendly….isn’t it too much? Am I trying to please them? Why? My colleagues are so good and nice to me, but they don’t really know me…just the me working with them… so then I shy off, and come off as arrogant or maybe thinking I am better than them…. but I do really want to help everyone as far as I can and I do want to make this world a better place and be friendly, because there are already so much sadness in the world.

    (this feels really weird writing all this)

    I am a teacher and love it! I know I know I am making a difference in the children’s lives.
    I am applying for a higher position now (Learning Support Educator), with much more responsibilities. It’s the first time I’m going to be in this job, and feel so insecure all the time, but I know I can do it.
    I am stressed about the interview, because I am shy. The previous interview did not go very well, because I just went blank :i.

    I really do (did 😉 feel how did I land in this position??
    My principal, my deputy, my assistants, my colleagues, even the people who is going to be in the interview panel keeps telling/reminding me of the good job I’m doing. How I am perfect for the job. I have this part telling me that I am fit to be in this position… but then how the hell did I get here? Yes, 10 years experience, 5 years of studies, but do I really know what I am doing?

    all of this is a bit mixed up, I just typed what I was thinking… feels weird.


    After reading this I do feel more confident! And I am going to come off it…

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  • Thanks Kyle! By far the best thing I’ve read on imposter syndrome so far. Naming it helps, sure, but sharing your own experience and giving others a chance to do likewise is far stronger and more effective. Everyone is just getting along and making it up as they go. Being honest about that is such a liberating thing, with oneself and each other.

    I’ve found lately that I’ve been pursuing so many different ideas to give my working life more meaning that I’ve also been using them as a distraction and excuse for avoiding what I really want to be doing; and have wanted to be doing a long while. Writing more, more often and making my own content. So, though some of the other ideas are also great and valid, and maybe I’d like to do them too, I’m going to give myself a chance to do what I’ve wanted to for so long, first. Write now.

    Will be coming back!

  • I am a fraud! I am a chameleon. I smile all day long and greet everyone with the same warm greeting, “hello”… Not because I care about you or care how you feel or even care what your problems are but because for one split second “I” made you acknowledge me acknowledging you. Wow, that’s harsh!

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  • Jack

    Great post kyle.
    One of my pet peeves is the lack of financial education in the public school systems, or if it was there, it was highly watered down and of limited value. This proved to be our Achilles heal in the latest recession.

    Thanks to you, I now have a second pet peeve, lack of exposure to the ” Imposter Syndrome ” . this can be a crippling holdback to people trying to move forward. Just knowing it’s there and what it is would be a huge benefit at the start of life’s journey.

    Perhaps these can help someone –

    There is nothing you can do about yesterday – it’s done -signed, sealed and delivered. You can look back on the day for any lessons, good or bad, learn from them, then move on – quickly though, as tomorrow is about to dawn.

    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but you can start today and make a new ending.”
    Veronica Costabile

  • Perry

    I have shied away from becoming a manager because I wake up every morning anxious that I will be laid off because I think I don’t know enough. I look at co-workers that grasp concepts faster than me and I compare myself. I try to study everything thinking that if I just learn this I will finally feel like an expert. I work for a prestigious IT company and I wonder every day how I got here and how will I continue to stay. When will they finally say you aren’t living up to our standards? It is the worst feeling in the world to feel like that day in and day out. And then I feel embarrassed if I express this to anyone because I hate showing my insecurities.

    I even find myself making my co-workers feel some kind of sympathy for me so they won’t look at me and think I’m stupid. I look at my dad with so much confidence and I wonder why didn’t I get that gene??

    It has overwhelmed me to the point where I don’t even want to be in the field anymore. Even though the company that I work for is great. The groom you the way I need to it, but I dog myself out so much that I think I don’t deserve and can’t handle the effort needed to be successful. I’m tired of the anxiety I feel every day,

    • I say you find someone, ideally at work, you can tell those things to. For me externalizing them makes them feel just a little silly

  • Christina H

    I’m so thankful for this post.
    I didn’t know what imposter syndrome was, but recently I’ve had multiple people tell me that it’s something they see me dealing with so I decided to look it up. A few searches later and I also found this and straight up not even going to lie, I cried. This paired with my anxiety disorders have really gotten the best of me. I’m constantly being told how great I am at the work that I do (I work in many different fields), but I just feel like I’m waiting for someone to “find me out.” It was made exponentially worse at a previous job when I fudged on a mystery shop phone call and my entire department had to do extended re-training. I felt like it was all coming to fruition, that I had let my fraud hurt others.

    It was bad enough that I panicked and actually ended up leaving the job despite being the main breadwinner for my family.

    The good thing is that since then much better opportunities have come to me and I’m on the career path I want to be on, but I still feel like a fake almost constantly. I just got an interview (for tomorrow!) with a blogger I’ve been following for many years. I know for a fact there were hundreds of applicants and so I’m questioning why on earth *I* would get an interview.

    I know I’m kind of just rambling, but I just needed to get this all out and didn’t feel comfortable putting it anywhere else. When I made my resume for the aforementioned position (I did a creative online resume) I was shocked at some of the things my colleagues said about me. Instead of being happy that I had that kind of influence on them, all I could think was that they were saying nice things to help with the job and not because they actually believe them.

    “Christina has shown me time and time again that there are still people out there who want to do good in this world. She is one of the most passionate people I have ever met and when she decides to do something not only does she do it, she excels at it. She is a diamond in the rough and has been a huge asset to the Empty Bowls Project team, I couldn’t ask for anyone more devoted and passionate about their work.”

    ^Like that. One of the most passionate people she knows? Huge asset?
    Was she sure she meant ME?!

    Anyway I’m rambling now again but just THANK YOU for this post from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much I needed it.

    • Christina,

      Thanks for the note! Good luck on that job too! I’m wondering who??

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  • ChelseyNicole

    Thanks so much for this article !! I am young in my industry and I always feel like everyone else knows way more than I do, or is smarter and has a better and quicker answer for everything . I am going to take all of this advice and worry about just me now! “My own personal legend ” and stop worrying about what people think . Sometimes I avoid social situations or speaking up because I feel like my 2 cents is not worth anything, and what do I know with just a couple of years experience. Well no more I am going to just get out there and do it and beleive in myself!! 🙂

  • Bayer Scott

    American is changing for the best i can say this because the gay community just literally got liberated i mean we can officially get married and be part of the the American society. When i heard the news i was filled with joy i mean me and my fiance the man i have always can finally own our marriage certificate in Georgia.It was not always right for us if you know what i mean. Before we got married in California ,he was not in love with me or i would say he was in love with me and lost for another guy and it was frustrating.We were off and on and mostly times our break up was always bad it always ends with huge fight. I loved him and wanted to be all his for the rest of my life but he did not see that he wanted to have me to himself and still see other guy i mean who does that? He was the queen of heart breaker and also was perfect when he wants to mend the heart. This was why i also went back to him no matter what always led to our ugly break up. But this madness just kept going on over and over with us and like i said i was sick of it. You can’t hurt me over and over again and still come back to me i mean i am not a play thing you use and drop when you tired. Judge me if you will it not like i care because all my life people have always said trash about me but if i had paid their attentions i would not have been this happy. After searching for means to make him commit to me even taking him with me to couple counseling i decide i contact a spell caster called Obudun Magonata it was just an arbitrary choice i mean, i told myself if he can’t help me i will move on with my life maybe the one i clam to be the love of my life was not the one after all. Obudun Magonata is an angel sent from a place i don’t know.He save me and made me he happiest man on earth or more preferable the happiest gay man on earth . I don’t know how he did it just after he help me cast a love spell, every pain that i was going through was lifted of my shoulder like magic my lover became the queen of hearts i would say he became mine and loved me like his life depended on it.When i first contacted Obudun Magonata, he told me to come down to his temple so i may witness the greatness of his work we got the materials we used for the spell together and just after four day i say the greatness of his power.But i spent a lot Because i had to travel all the way to Africa.It will be cheaper for me to have had him get the materials form me but i was foolish. But its amazing i still got my heart desire. He also told me that the gay community will soon be free and in just two months his prophecy has come to pass. Who wants to tell me he is not great contact i you will here you will not regret your decision use thus address spiritsofobudunmagonata@ ( yahoo ). com rewrite to a normal email format-

  • Anonymous

    My Fraud Police appear when I’m afraid that I’m not pulling my weight, and being the weakest link for everyone else. Of course, there has to be a weakest link in any group, but my ego pours the guilt on if that’s even considered. For not pulling my weight, for letting everyone down, creating more work for everybody (how DARE you not pull your weight!). I also feel like nothing I do is ever good enough—maybe these aspects are other ways it can manifest.

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  • Dallas

    I am an attorney and I recently stumbled across this syndrome and realize that I have dealt with this since grade school–everyone told me I was gifted in my thinking. Now that I have made it through grad school and law school, which was also a feat, I am terrified of being a trial attorney and THAT IS MY GOAL. My fear bleeds over into public speaking because I believe that arguing before a judge and jury and opposing counsel, I will be exposed as not competent, not good, ineffective and just not worth the title of trial attorney

  • JW

    I think if I am going to be gut-level honest, my IS expresses itself because what I do (basically coaching people very very deeply) feels like a gift that doesn’t come from “me”, it comes through me. I am presenting to the world some very high ticket offers and I am terrified that once I get their money, I will disappoint them, that somehow the muse will not show up for me in that moment and they will be so angry that they wasted their time, money and expectations on me and I wasn’t able to deliver.

    A few years back, I was doing some beautiful healing work on people with essential oils. I got mostly amazing feedback, but two powerful women in the community did not have a good experience in the sessions I gave them and they let me know.
    It totally shook me to my core and whatever innocent (in a good way) feelings I had about having a gift for helping people in that way was shattered. I pretty much stopped doing what I was doing because I had been exposed as a fraud. (I hadn’t thought of myself as a fraud until that point).
    Now, with my true life’s work, I am literally paralyzed with fear that if this gets “taken away” from me, I will have no where to go. I won’t know who I am. I am 57 years old and both my husband and child are unable to work as they both are chronically ill so I am the sole breadwinner. EVERYTHING depends on me. I can feel my blood run cold when I think about the pressure and responsibility that carries. I have been told countless times how much I have helped various people, but in coaching, if someone is not ready, they are not coachable. I don’t know how to get past that. Sorry for whining. I hate when I whine, but you gave us permission to.

    thanks so much for writing this article from the bottom of your heart. It is very loving and supportive.

  • Ben

    Great post Kyle!
    I am a self-taught web developer. I am always constantly learning and much of it is on the job/project. I always wondered why I get so anxious when a client or boss gets disappointed when something doesn’t work right or I make a mistake on something. I try to bullshit an explanation of the issue by blaming it on some glitch or other browser issue but it always feels like they see through my excuse. From there I begin to get anxious and catastrophise that I have no idea what I’m doing and I am going to not live up to my ego of being a star and be an expert that people put on a pedestal. Oohhhhhh the humanity! Thanks for letting me write my thoughts.

  • Marcelina

    I’ve avoided doing, art-sculpting designing, painting, creating; because I think that because I didn’t go to a design/art school I wouldn’t be as good as all the other people that have gone. I also think that because it’s been 6 years since I graduated college with a different major that I should just stick to what I know and not make a fool out of myself. There are plenty of other people that are much better then me already working in a design field and there is no hope for me.

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  • jose

    Kyle, I’ve just Heard about this syndrome yesterday, and all day long, I have reading about it, I´ve just realized that most of my professional life I have been feeling inadequate minimizing my personal achievements, It’s a relive that that now I found the diagnose and the therapy to cure it.
    thank you, and I’m just starting the 21 steps, I’ll be in touch.

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  • Robert Alonso WW

    If your wondering how to regain the all you lost during your addiction mostly family and job, the first thing is to remember it my never happen! Even if you’re putting consistent effort into changing your way of thinking and living, that doesn’t necessarily mean every family member is going to be ready to dive in to a new relationship. Sometimes, a family’s trust has been unraveling over years and years. It won’t be rebuilt over night or at all.The best thing to do in early recovery is either to focus on living sober and healthy. Quitting drugs, or no longer drinking, isn’t sufficient change for the addict. Your entire perspective on life, patterns of thinking, and living habits also need to change Otherwise, you’re essentially the same addict or alcoholic, only without the substance or just contact this spell caster he has helped a lot of people get their lives back including me when all seem to be hopless he always shrine the light of remdeption and hope. He fix all problem and i know this because i am writing this from my personal experience.If you have been reading comment online about this spell caster Obudun Magonata it will be easy for me to tell you this that he couldn’t get any more really that he is already. I have come to a conclusion that the gift he possess and his good heart are the strongest most powerful thing i have ever known. He is the most straight forward person and most understanding anyone can ever meet. He did not even ask for my money he just asked me to get materials that will be needed for the spell and that was it. To start, i am an alcoholic and also have a strong addiction for gambling. I lost almost a 100 grand on internet gambling and still did not stop at the same time i was drinking heavily i got suspended form work for a duration of four years because of my drinking problem & my home, i destroyed it with by myself. I was unfaithful to my wife several times and she knew what was happening, i kept yelling over nothing on my girls. My addiction to gambling and drinking was complimentary i was losing a lot of money and still playing and was drinking a lot to calm my nerves. The addiction made me numb my feelings was gone. My wife , my girls saw me as a monster. I remember this day, my wife told me it as my second girl’s birthday the other week and my responds was “grown *** girls don’t celebrate their birthday and if she wanted to she can as well go get a job so she can use want she earn to celebrate every day of her life”. I still can’t believe i said that to my wife and on top of that her sister was right there. My wife was hurt it was written all over her face her face and she told me ” I don’t even know who you are any more where is the man that use to be the human shield of this family ? that man would never had said anything to hurt me or his kids you don’t even care that you are scaring h*** out of this girls? one more of this and i am out” there i told her i don’t need them they were weighing me down that there were burden on me. Those words still hunts me till this day i can believe i really said all those words. My wife left me and off course with the kids and foolish drunk me happily signed the divorce papers. Honestly i don’t know maybe it because i was drunk most of the the day, i felt go i get gambling and kept drinking losing big and winning little waking up with different ladies on my bed every morning. I was like this for two years, and i felt i was on top of the world but my friend made me see i had nothing anymore his wife won’t let him talk to me or hang out with me i gradually felt empty. At a point i saw i needed to get clean and actually committed to my self to AA off course it was hard to admit but with my friends help i got committed. I was six months clean from alcohol and gambling when i discovered my wife was see another man and they were going to get married. I was still in love with her. She was mad when she saw me, she wanted nothing to do with me, my girls hated me because of me they could not even look at me. I tried to get close and got a restraining order. I needed to be my family again i know i ruined it by myself i just wanted to make it up to them i failed then and i wanted to redeem myself to show them the man that use to be the human shield of his family is back i found him again. Obudun Magonata was the man that help me made it happen. It was the course of find a away to reach my wife i found this great spell caster. I did not have the privilege of meeting but like he told other he had helped, some of them met him in real time. He told me after the spell casting my wife , my child will love me like we never fell apart they would know i messed up but they will not care about it any more. I got the materials that was required of me by i got i mean i asked him to help me sending over to him the total cost because most of the materials where only found in the heart of Libya. Just after the spell process was concluded a package was sent to me i can’t disclose its content but it rest easy it could not even harm a fly. He told me what to do with it and all he said will happen happened. I had my family back my wife , my child and i are once again that happy family i lost. I was still on suspension he told he i will get a call to come back to work and i did just after all he did for me. This spell caster he has something that saves lives. Am glad i met him all he promised me he did i wish i could me more grateful. I will leave his email contact like those other person that did in there comment or article which ever this is spiritsofobudunmagonata ‘ at ‘ ‘ yahoo ‘ ‘ dot ‘ ‘ com . I know you all know how to make use of this email because email have a standard format use it in that form++++

  • Zoya pillai

    Hi Kyle
    I have realised that I don’t put in my 100% towards any project I take on, I think somewhere I feel that if I give it my best effort and fail it would confirm that I am not good enough. Half baked work gives me an excuses to hide behind, if I had more time or resources I could have done it better. I had a project review today and I really got screwed. Overheard my boss bitching about me to my team mates of how I am not upto the mark and am a burden to the team. I just don’t know how to motivate myself to put in more

  • Katrina Rae

    Thank you for writing this article. It is full of absolute gems to help me make sense of the “imposter syndrome” and diffuse it. Just the realization that so many people feel this and I am not alone lessens the impact of it.
    I appreciate your courage and humanness in sharing this.
    I look forward to more real insights from you!

  • Derrick

    Man, I hope you help me out with this one. I’m 18 and for so much of my life, I think I’ve had this. At school I rarely participated in sports, so I labeled myself as the smart guy and stayed a good student. I feel like I’m never competitive though, like I really want to rough house and play around and say the dirty things I think of jokingly. But I don’t, I stay to myself often and don’t share my opinions. Instead of being authentic I feel like a nothing. In reality I think maybe I’m a big ass or wimp so I just don’t do anything. Like its wrong to be a guy, guys are crazy and mess with people sometimes but I just suppress everything to be the acceptable personality I need to different people.

    • Derrick

      Nevermind, I realized I wasn’t who I thought I was. Thanks for the post, it helped me realize this and I feel a lot happier!

  • I always have the unshakeable feeling that people will find out I am a phony artist. I even have trouble calling myself one because most of the things I draw is fan art from cartoons. It’s silly because I’m doing all the work, for hours on end I focus on making my art as perfect as I can (which is also stressful because I never know when to stop). It has caused me to have extreme social anxiety because of the fact that
    1) I think I don’t know anything about popular culture or what people talk about

    2) I fear talk about my interests because I feel like I’m not enough of an expert in the topic.

    It’s like I know externally that I will never know everything about a topic, but I feel like if someone finds out something important I don’t know about a topic I’m supposed to be an expert in, then that makes me a fraud.

  • RetroRoux

    I’ve done almost everything I could to avoid getting a part-time for my school. I’m in 5th year of a computer school and I feel I’m a fraud.
    Every time I look for a company or a job offer, I tell myself that I can’t be good enough for it. What if I succeed in my job interview and they start seeing that i’m not very good in what I do. They will put money and hope for me, but I will eventually disappoint everyone.
    I see so much talent around me. People in my school who know exactly what they are talking about. I feel that I don’t own my success, I’m in 5th year only because I chose the good teams.
    How can you know if it really is an impostor syndrome ? What if I’m really that bad and just pretending because I can’t let my parents worry about me.

    Excuse my english,

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  • Claire Vogel

    Now that I’m learning about imposter syndrome, it feels like I’ve needlessly avoided doing so many things. I feared that if I wasn’t instantly good at doing something, I didn’t live up to my potential. This imposter feeling put me off of doing almost anything creative. If someone reacted positively to my work, then they were just lying to make me feel better, and if someone reacted negatively, then they’re right to criticize because they’ve seen through my bullshit.

  • Pete

    I haven’t gone out and tried the businesses, ideas and even the personal brand I want to, bc I’ve always thought people would see me as a fraud. Until I realized that pretty much everyone is full of shit. So what the hell…

  • Ze Impostor

    I am a graphic designer and for the longest time I’ve been dealing with feeling like an imposter. I figured I might be dealing with imposter syndrome, but after reading this and trying some of these things, I think I might be a legitimate imposter (no, the oxymoron is not lost on me).

    Here’s how I did on this list. Please pardon the cynicism.

    1. Come off it: I guess the next 20 steps are about ways you can do this step, so just read on. At any rate, as you will see, I haven’t come off it.

    2. Accept that you have had some role in your successes: I’ve had no successes, but I do accept that I’ve had some role in the the successes I’ve never had.

    3. Focus on providing value: This has always been my focus. I feel like an imposter because I don’t think I’ve ever actually provided any.

    4. Keep a file of people saying nice things about you: Here’s my list: 1. I’m articulate, (much more in writing than in speech) 2.) I’m good about admitting when I’ve done a horrible job. Apparently people find this refreshing. 3.) I can really grow a beard.

    5. Stop comparing yourself to that person: I can’t, plain and simple. That other person is there, and they’re winning my bids. What’s more, when the few low-end projects I do manage to win fail to produce any positive results for the client, someone will remind me about that person, even if it’s just in the fact that they hire that person the next time.

    6. Expose yourself totally: I’ve actually done this 30min writing activity before at the recommendation of my therapist. Actually I found the results more scary and depressing than helpful.

    7. Treat the thing as a business/experiment: I’ve always done this, but it’s a failed experiment, and since I only have one product to offer (my design ability), my only options are to keep trying to sell the junk product, or quit.

    8. Say “It’s Impostor Syndrome”: As you know, I’ve done that, but I can’t believe it anymore.

    9. Remember: being wrong doesn’t make you a fake: No, but I think never being right kinda does.

    10. “Nobody Belongs Here More Than You”: If I were still in the early stages of my career, I could understand this, but I’ve been at this over 12 years and if I haven’t seen some success by now, it might be time to admit I don’t belong here.

    11. Realize that when you hold back you’re robbing the world: No, when I con people into paying me for a product that won’t give them any positive returns I’m robbing the world.

    12. You’re going to die: Do I want to want to be on my deathbed regretting that I spent my entire life stopping myself because I felt like a fraud? No, but it’s better than dying on a prison bunk because I actually WAS a fraud, or at best leaving my family with a mountain of debt by investing myself in career after career because I kept believing in myself despite my ineptitude.

    13. Stream-of-conscious writing: Again, I’ve tried this before. Scary, not silly.

    14. Say what you can: There’s really not anything I can say. The longer I do this, the more I study and the harder I try, the less I know. Every step brings another failure and another piece of my understanding is scrapped, with nothing to replace it. My whole career at this point is mired in complete uncertainty.

    15. Realize that nobody knows what they’re doing: I do realize this, and no, you’re not an imposter for trying something that might not work, but you might be if nothing you try ever does work.

    16. Taking action: Taking action proves that you are not a fraud, unless you are. Then it proves that you are. That’s been my experience anyway.

    17. Realize that you are never you: True, people are constantly changing. Somehow, though I never seem to improve.

    18. Authenticity is a hoax: I don’t consider myself an imposter because I represent myself as having a different personality than I actually do. That’s just salesmanship. I feel like an imposter when I represent myself as being competent when I’m not. There’s no fuzziness about that.
    I can pretend to like golf to impress a client, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if I can’t honestly deliver a brochure that will generate interest from their target market, then I am a fraud by saying that I can.

    19. See credentials for what they are: I already don’t put a lot of stock in the credentials as a designer. There is one credential that’s very important though: A strong portfolio. I must have reworked my portfolio over a thousand times—adding in, taking out, redesigning, etc.—but no matter what I do with it, it fails to impress.

    20. Find one person you can say, “I feel like a fraud” to: I’ve tried sharing this with a few people a) My therapist who’s paid by me to convince me that I’m not an imposter, b) My wife, who will predictably disagree with anything bad I may acknowledge about myself, but can never back it up, and c) My best friend, who also works in the field. He disagreed with me on the surface, but I kinda got the vibe that he didn’t really.
    I also think he’s been avoiding me since then, like he’s worried this topic is going to come up again, because I haven’t seen much of him since that day. It’s been about two years now.

    21. Faking things actually does work: True, and it’s necessary to take up any kind of skill, but eventually, you have to either achieve some level of proficiency or give up on it. Did I mention I’ve been at this for 12 years? If your baby isn’t walking after 12 years, there’s something wrong and it’s time to go wheelchair.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this post!

    3 days ago I was told I was being promoted to a role I have known I could do for the past year. I always had confidence I could do it, right until the moment I was given the opportunity, and since then I have been plagued with self doubt and feelings of ‘I don’t belong here..’
    It’s nice to read that these feelings aren’t abnormal, just knowing will help me to get over my self doubts and get on with the job!

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  • Heather

    A year out of grad school with a masters in social work, I was promoted by the company I had done my internship with, above others, one in particular, that I felt was much more qualified. This other person had a license (one more initial in her creditential) and had been with the company for several years. (She has since been promoted also, into a leadership position.) I do therapy with teens and I meet with people struggling with addiction, write a report on their addiction history and make recommend for treatment that go to the department of children’s services and the court. I come into contact every day with so much that I DON’T know. And yet I seem to get high praise from my colleagues and from other agencies that get my reports. I feel as though I know a tiny fraction of what they think I know. I am so new to the field. 99% of the time, I feel like I am presenting a facade of competence- even to my husband and daughter. Yes, I feel like a failure as a wife and mother as well. At times, the burden of this “secret” I carry around gets to be overwhelmingly heavy. The secret that I’m not as smart as everyone thinks I am.

  • Sun

    My wife and her family always say that you are so smart but you are equally lazy and don’t utilize your true potential.
    Been the story of my life though as I graduated college and work in the finance field and doing well, however, each day I feel I don’t know the core of my work : like I know how to do things but not the why behind it and that’s why I feel phony.
    I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved but hardly give myself credit for it. I’m in my early 30’s and have a house and hardly any debt ( except mortgage that is) but I don’t feel I worked hard enough for it at all which takes out the excitement from doing things.
    Not sure if you can relate but until today I didn’t even know I had a name for this behavior and I’ve been feeling this way for last 10 plus yrs.
    Need to do more research or take some therapy. Thanks for the post btw

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  • Liberating! I had no idea other people felt like this! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ze Impostor

    Okay, so I read over my post from a few days ago, and realized that despite it’s length I never really got to to the point, and the point was this:
    a) Is it possible to be not just suffering from impostor syndrome, but to be an actual impostor,
    b) is it possible that this could describe me and
    c) what should I do about it?

  • User Experience Wannabe King

    As a User Experience Designer, I have to somehow capture well enough the nuances of human experience to create the basis for great designs. Right now I am attempting to do so again for the latest project. Serious procrastination sets in, each time I sit down to create the “masterpiece” of insights based on the interviews, observations, and current knowledge of the domain.
    It is a simple reality, in UX that I rely on people being open and honest in sharing, and that I can never be the expert they are in their own experiences. Yet I am supposed to summarize and illustrate both pleasure and pain points with their daily challenges and in the end offer solutions that will be effective, efficient, and enjoyable to use!
    Imposter syndrome hits hard, as all the answers should come from people’s real life experiences, and understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, and I should somehow capture and communicate that.
    Accepting that I can never do this perfectly, and sometimes may even be completely wrong or ineffective, is a hard pill to swallow. The reality is noone could. Thus I won’t ever either. The humility to openly make mistakes early and often is hard for the ego to accept. This is however, is the best way to get the right insights and get to a solid (though never perfect) basis for design.

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  • John Wright

    I cannot make relationships work because I am afraid to speak my mind because I believe I will be found out for what I really am…. a fraud, I only want people to be happy and think of me in a positive light. this keeps me from having to deal with the fact the I have no self confidence in what I do or the relationships I hold. I am distant to the people I really care about, I do not speak my mind because I’m afraid they will leave me, or be disappointed in me this is not something I can deal with, from anyone even aquatences. I don’t know what makes me happy because making other people happy and not disappointed in me is what keeps me going.

  • Donna

    I’ve lived most of my life frozen because of the Imposter Syndrome. I only became aware of it a year ago when I read the first quarter of a book on the subject, after which I slammed the book shut and promptly started my own business, made a chunk of money, worked myself to the ground, made a ton of mistakes and landed right back where I started.

    I think maybe it’s time to knock out the Imposter Syndrome once again. In Round 1 I only had a life of lying low and doing next to nothing to use to discredit my ability (if you doubt your ability the very last thing you want to do is anything that might test the limits of your ability). Now I have a year of professional mistakes to use to discredit my ability….combined with all the prior years of doing nothing.

    Le sigh. It would be nice to be on the phone with a potential new client and NOT start listing off all the reasons why I’m not that qualified instead of listing my accomplishments and qualifications like they asked.

  • Carolyn

    My boyfriend found this for me after we talked about Imposter Syndrome. We both have it. He’s learned to temper it, I just discovered my feelings have a name. The timing on this is perfect. I’ve been feeling like a complete fraud as a speaker on panels about writing. Yes, I’m a writer, but I’m not yet published. Who am I to speak about writing when I don’t have a book to hold up and prove to everyone that the world thinks I can write? This weekend I’m going to walk into those conference rooms and speak on those panels and not feel like a fraud. I may not be published, but because of that, I have a different perspective on writing that the more seasoned authors have probably forgotten.

  • Rob

    Thanks for this post. I feel this and it’s debilitating. Today at least, you’ve helped me break out and get back to work.


  • Amanda

    I feel like an imposter in a new leadership role. I “support” 13 different healthcare departments and “direct” a hospital medicine department. Most of my work is all comfortably within my non-patient care related skill set. The portion that isn’t is quite bothersome. I am frequently asked questions on which I have no idea of the answer, by people substantially older and seemingly more experienced in healthcare than I am.

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  • I’ve been one of the most self-aware egotistical frauds I’ve ever known. Or am I? I figured 6-7 years back that I’d quite a few things wrong with me and I needed to work on myself so I began reading books and blog posts and meditating and fixing myself.
    The question I ask after reading your amazing blog piece and enlightening my consciousness to Impostor Syndrome:
    – Was I really that bad? No
    – Will I ever be perfect? No
    – Should I worry about pleasing everyone all the time? No

    Life is a journey, a lesson, a growth hacker. Some facts:
    – Nobody on this planet of 8+billion people swans around happy all day every day.
    – Nobody on this planet knows everything. In fact of the 8+billion no individual probably knows more that 0.00000000000000001% of the world’s combined knowledge
    Nobody on this planet is 100% sure what they are doing or what their life purpose is.
    Nobody on this planet is perfect or imperfect. We’re human and amazing!
    Nobody on this planet is stupid or inadequate or useless.

    My quote:
    “I’m my own worst critique. Nobody gives me anywhere close to 1% of the negative thoughts or perceptions I give to myself. Imagine I had this knowledge and could turn it around. Imagine I had the power to think of myself positively even 50% of the time. Imagine how amazing my life would be. WOW!”

    Thanks Kyle.

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  • Cris

    Thank you, Kyle! This was very helpful! I just lost my job and also another possible job because I felt like a fraud and wasn’t able to fake it. I lacked self-confidence and my employer saw that. It hurt me, it got me down, but I never thought about this being a syndrome of some sort. I thought it was just me… with this big flaw that would get down in life wherever I went. I’m working through this… and this story helped me very much!!
    Thanks again!

    • Awesome Cris!

      I think I’ve mentioned this in the comments, but it’s crazy to me how helpful it can be to have a LABEL for something. It makes it more approachable/manageable.

  • TAdamczyk

    Great article! I haven’t gone back to complete my Master’s Degree because I think that I am too old, and I am worried that I will fail. I worry too much about failure and that people will think of me as a failure.

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  • Schwan

    -It’s been some months ago I’ve discovered Impostor Syndrome in me.
    I’m a grad student in architecture in Albania and I teach English for kids in here. I love working for them, but I have never intended to teach them because I thought I’m not good enough to participate in such engagement.
    This happened ’till my family and friends pushed me to act and move further on my decision.
    It’s been now half and a year doing this staff and I still receive lovely cards with amazing confidences for me. They are so lovely folks.
    -I struggle at university but in the same time I’m called as an intelligent student by my peers and teachers.
    -I would also admit that I suffer from introversion.
    -My mind literally blows most of the time, even in these moments while I’m typing. My thoughts aren’t organized and usually I prefer to keep quiet than talking any bullsh*t.
    -And like most of you, I fake it ’till make it.
    Kyle, as soon as I manage my thoughts better I’d try to explode anything else in here.
    Thanks for being such confidential.

  • Jen

    Thank you for this. My friend told me to google “imposter syndrome” after I had a meltdown this morning. I just passed the bar exam and got licensed this year and I am trying to start my own law practice. I battle this feeling every time I walk into a courtroom or sit down with a client. I feel like I should be saying, “here, let me take some notes and I will pass this on to the REAL attorney”. Part of me fully expects to be kicked out of the courtroom for the “unauthorized practice of law”. I feel inadequate and lost 90% of the day which does not make me very effective on the days when I chose to give into it. Your advice and information helped me realize mostly that I am not alone, and I am going to read it many times over. Thank you.

    • Jen that’s huge! Congrats on doing all of this–especially in the face of feeling like you shouldn’t

  • John

    I am about to graduate from my undergrad program here in Costa Rica, I am in the academic field, biotechnology, and feel that everyone else already has their things together, that they know more than I do on subject matter, that even my independnt study is something completely useless for the world. Now I am starting to go through this process of decisions and what not, so nervous on what the next chapter is to come, I look at all these options and think why I should I be chosen for this internship or grad program, doing excersice helps keep me at bay, nevertheless all these thoughts keep popping into my head. I dont really know how to stop banging up on myself for every little thing that I do.

  • Suzanne

    Thanks for this. After 11+ years in a job, it ended and I am in a new job (although similar industry, but marketing focus) in a totally new part of the country. I have never felt more insecure about what I’m doing or a greater pressure for failure. I am working to make some of these suggestions daily activities. Thank you for the openness of this post!

  • Jeff

    In a word, “WOW”. This is just the second article I’ve read on the Imposter Sydrome after having just discovered it. I can’t tell you how enlightening and encouraging it’s been. Even though people tell me how brilliant I am and come to me often for answers, I’ve always felt like I was faking it. In my current position at work I feel like I’m faking it. I’ve thought about doing seminars/webinars on different topics, but then I think of all the people who “I think” know more than me and each time I feel like a fraud…enough to let the idea pass right on. So much of what you wrote resonated with me. THANK YOU.

  • Jessica

    I am a TV producer and I am constantly terrified I will be ‘found out’. Despite me putting out a weekly show that has had constant good feedback for the last 8 months, I always get to the weekend and think “How the hell did that show get on TV? That was lucky!” even though I know logically that it wasn’t luck, it was me working 60 hours a week to make it happen. I feel lucky that I made it through another week without anything going disastrously wrong and without my bosses realising that I don’t quite know what I’m doing. I am currently organising a foreign shoot and, in a meeting with my team earlier, I really sounded like I knew what I was talking about. And I kind of do, because I’ve done this job for years, but I am a nervous wreck so much of the time, anticipating all the times my bosses will call me out and say that I am a bad producer. Most recently I spend thousands of $$$ on new graphics for our show but they’re not as good as I hoped and tomorrow I need to reveal them to my bosses. I am terrified that they will hate them and I will get in a bunch of trouble. I am writing this as an exercise in the hope I can rationalise everything but it doesn’t stop the internal fear.

  • H

    Judging by the length of these comments I would say this resonates with a lot of people! I have this tendency myself and now I can see it cropping up in my accomplished daughter. I started out in life as a writer, gave it up for a day job and now I’m gradually plugging away and writing books in the evenings. All the great books already out there make me feel like a fraud, but this article has given me some ways to shut that down and keep going. I’m going to write my characters as authentically as I can, including the one who shares this condition with me.

  • Anezuka

    challenge accepted
    I left my band which had gained relative success in the past few years after winning a record contract. The pseudo fame that ensued had changed my friends and gAve them giant egos and they treated me like crap despite me writing the songs and driving them everywhere. So I left. And now I’m trying to make an album by myself but it’s harder than I expected and I’m getting more and more afraid that I have no talent. I’m still trying, and I’m not going to give up or anything but being scared is making the process really difficult emotionally. I think I compare myself to others too much. Thanks for the article though, I’ll try harder to get over my fears.

  • Anonymous

    This hits home so much! I am very accomplished; let’s just say I’m one of those teenagers you see in the “30 Teenagers of the Year” of famous organizations, and have interned at a very famous tech company and am in my second year of college pursuing two STEM majors, before I can vote.
    I just broke this articles’ main point (you’re not special), right there, but really that’s the other side of having all these accolades; even if you feel like your reality is not very glamorous, it is hard when other people feel like they do too. I feel like the people who are close to me are all very impressed by these feats, but they are much more accomplished/smarter than I am. I feel like I have to always live up to their expectations, but there’s always a fear that I won’t and they’ll find out the type of imposter I am.
    But then a part of me actually believes that this imposter syndrome helps me accomplish more. Because I feel like a fraud, I have to do more and work more, which makes me more successful/skilled. Yes, my syndrome is that bad.
    What has my syndrome prevented me from doing? Applying to a few tech companies so far that are the hardest to interview for. I fear they’ll just laugh in my face and say, “You fooled everyone.”
    And you know what? I’m going to apply to those tech companies. Thank you so much for the article…There is such a well of emotions bubbling in me right now. Everyone in these comments are very accomplished, and it is good to know that there are others who feel the same way. Let’s support each other to overcome this syndrome, because let’s face it, we’re awesome.

  • Venessa

    I am trying to learn to be a consistent free-lance writer, and I struggle to maintain the excitement from when I have an idea for a great piece to when the time comes to follow through. I often think, “Who am I to think that what I have to say on this is worthwhile? What if my ignorance is painfully obvious to a reader and I’m lambasted for pretending like I know something when I don’t?” So I think maybe I’ll make it clear that I’m not an expert, however then I’m afraid people who’ll be uninterested in reading me. I often feel like the fire in my belly to self-express is snubbed out by what a fake I am. What really terrifies me is that I could speak and be wrong- and maybe cause more confusion or just be known as the person who is/was wrong about this thing once. And then I feel embarrassed for feeling so self-important, and by now the fire is more than out. The coals have turned to ash, and I’m thinking the fire was a silly mistake to begin with. That is until it’s rekindled, and I learn how to use it to help people and myself instead of letting my past experiences, my burn scars, keep me from experimentation. I’m tired of watching all these fires die, and for nothing other than to keep myself from ever feeling any pain. For someone as insecure and fearful as me, a little pain might do me some good, because the fear of it is so much more paralyzing and damaging.

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  • Derrick Jennings

    I never try my hardest in school even though that’s what I’m all about. I’m afraid if I try my hardest I will reveal the truth that I’m really just some stupid guy trying to be intelligent.

  • I tend to be authentic so I disagree that there is no such thing as authentic. I try to be totally seen, to the extent that the environment accepts it. I am lucky that I have a group of people in my life with whom I can be totally authentic. I don’t mean I share every angry or negative or sexual thought with them. But as much as is loving, I do. Most of all I am authentic with myself to the extent that I have grown able to know my own truth. This is a quest I pursue daily with spontaneous journalizing, therapy and daily spontaneous primal poems that I send to the email list of the members of the International Primal Association. Julie Eliason

  • Jeff W

    Thank you so much for writing this article. This is my first real discovery that this feeling I continually have is not just me doing something wrong, but is something I’m able to work against. For as long as I can remember I have had this feeling that I live in this place where no one really knows me. That I have all these dirty secrets and any moment someone will find out and that it will implode on me. I just wanted to say how grateful I am, and that reading this article has at least helped me see a conceivable way forward from this (what I would call) struggle. Thank you so much.


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  • Le Impostor

    Wow, reading this article I went through a few waves of emotion. The mention of being stuck / a rusty wheel is especially true for me. I am so terrified to fail that I’ve shut down. I’m dragging myself out but it’s a lot of work and at times I feel like I won’t succeed.

    One thought that came to me is that there are millions of authors. I have a few favorites that I think are brilliant. Sometimes I’ll read something someone else recommended and I’ll think what the ?!?! It’s not that my books are better, it’s that they’re better for ME. For that author every person he reaches is a success even though he’ll probably never know it. That other author isn’t a fraud, he/she is just not the author that resonates with me.

    Everyone doesn’t have to think you’re special and everyone doesn’t have to think what you do is good. It’s ok to do it for doing it’s sake. (ps at the moment I’m beating myself up because I’m not sure if “it’s” should be possessive here, can doing it benefit from doing it? Can I post this without being sure? This is how far down the rabbit hole I go)

  • Linda

    Hello Kyle.
    I was worried about constantly feeling anxious lately following several big promotions during company mergers and acquisitions. I am now managing people who all have specialized degrees. I have none. Nobody has asked because everyone assumes I have a degree. I am fearful that someone is going to expose me or confront me about it. The difference between them and me is that their knowledge is old and mine is fresh since I am still in school, taking online classes, one or two per semester while maintaining perfect GPA. I will graduate in time to retire but I will finally feel like I have proven myself. Until then, I will keep feeling like an imposter.
    I am anxious every day. I feel like I don’t deserve this position and the employees I have to manage will not respect me… I feel so anxious that at times it resembles a panic attack.
    I was googling “feeling anxious” which led me to “feeling like a fraud” which led to your article. I have never posted anything personal before for fear of exposure. Your article helped me more than a therapist could in that now I understand I’m not alone feeling this way. I am not an imposter because I have earned my place and I allowed myself to take opportunities that brought me to where I am. I carved my way up here. I am not a fraud. I simply live up to my expectations which are high.
    Thank you Kyle, you write very well. And yes, you can add this comment to your success pile. This article made a huge difference for me, in how I feel. I also believe inertia breeds self doubt. That’s why it’s important to keep moving forward. I will make sure to read your article again when my insecurities return.

  • Anonymous

    I managed my high school robotics team for several years despite starting on the team with zero experience, often not knowing what the heck was going on while kids who had been building for most of their lives went on building without any problems.
    I eventually figured enough out to contribute a lot to the team and captained a team to world championships, then raised the program from 20 or so active members to over a hundred students and mentors with expended facilities and resources open to teach anyone of any experience level.
    But I always felt like such a fraud, because as much as I loved the team and loved improving it and loved contributing to building as much as I could, I still didn’t know how to use this tool or how to wire that motor.
    I graduated feeling partially proud of what I had made and mostly like a loser for still not being the “expert” a lot of my peers thought (or probably didn’t think) I was.

    Same with cello, and with being a science major, I didn’t start playing as early as many of my peers so I didn’t have the same foundational skills, I didn’t start loving science until late in high school and now I’m a science major who is doing well in class by working hard but doesn’t get a few basic bio jokes and has to fake laugh when everyone else gets them, and didn’t ever take a chemistry class until college.
    I’ve played very challenging pieces in a high school string quartet and earned a Superior rating from festival judges and performed in more cello concerts than I can remember. But I just auditioned today to be apart of what I thought were informal string quartets, but apparently are composed of all music majors. They said it wasn’t an audition and not to prepare, but then I showed up and they wanted me to play something from memory (I DONT KNOW ANY SOLOS BY MEMORY, THIS IS A HOBBY TO ME) and for me to play scales (I KNOW LIKE 2 SCALES BY HEART, OF COURSE I PANICKED THROUGH BOTH OF THEM). Obviously I didn’t get out into any quartets. It was a humiliating experience overall.
    I already feel like a loser when I say I’m a cellist (cause what “real” cellist doesn’t know Bach by heart) or that I love robotics. Because people assume I’m so musical and tech savvy, and I feel like a failure.
    But I am trying to learn more about the things I love all the time and have already accomplished some amazing things.
    I have to keep telling myself that I love playing music and I can do some cool stuff with technology, so yes I am a cellist and a robot enthusiast just as much as the next person. I’ll just find some other enthusiasts to work with and we’ll all learn more together. And screw people who are “talent gate keepers” or belittle the passions of others.

  • Anxiety Burrito

    Thanks Kyle, I’m bookmarking this page because it’s probably the most helpful and necessary thing I’ve ever read.
    I’ve been having some deep anxiety recently that feels exactly like imposter syndrome. I have a scholarship right now that is contingent on my performance as a leader and high achiever at my school, and was awarded based on accomplishments I’ve always felt like a fraud about, despite knowing otherwise deep down.
    I managed my high school robotics team for several years despite starting on the team with zero experience, often not knowing what the heck was going on while kids who had been building for most of their lives went on building without any problems.
    I eventually figured enough out to contribute a lot to the team and captained a team to world championships, then raised the program from 20 or so active members to over a hundred students and mentors with expended facilities and resources open to teach anyone of any experience level.
    But I always felt like such a fraud, because as much as I loved the team and loved improving it and loved contributing to building as much as I could, I still didn’t know how to use this tool or how to wire that motor.
    I graduated feeling partially proud of what I had made and mostly like a loser for still not being the “expert” a lot of my peers thought (or probably didn’t think) I was.

    Same with cello, and with being a science major, I didn’t start playing as early as many of my peers so I didn’t have the same foundational skills, I didn’t start loving science until late in high school and now I’m a science major who is doing well in class by working hard but doesn’t get a few basic bio jokes and has to fake laugh when everyone else gets them, and didn’t ever take a chemistry class until college.
    I’ve played very challenging pieces in a high school string quartet and earned a Superior rating from festival judges and performed in more cello concerts than I can remember. But I just auditioned today to be apart of what I thought were informal string quartets, but apparently are composed of all music majors. They said it wasn’t an audition and not to prepare, but then I showed up and they wanted me to play something from memory (I DONT KNOW ANY SOLOS BY MEMORY, THIS IS A HOBBY TO ME) and for me to play scales (I KNOW LIKE 2 SCALES BY HEART, OF COURSE I PANICKED THROUGH BOTH OF THEM). Obviously I didn’t get out into any quartets. It was a humiliating experience overall.
    I already feel like a loser when I say I’m a cellist (cause what “real” cellist doesn’t know Bach by heart) or that I love robotics. Because people assume I’m so musical and tech savvy, and I feel like a failure.
    But I am trying to learn more about the things I love all the time and have already accomplished some amazing things.
    I have to keep telling myself that I love playing music and I can do some cool stuff with technology, so yes I am a cellist and a robot enthusiast just as much as the next person. I’ll just find some other enthusiasts to work with and we’ll all learn more together. And screw people who are “talent gate keepers” or belittle the passions of others. I’ll be taking Kyle’s advice from now on.

  • Bryan

    I’m a student studying Engineering and Physics. For most of my life I wanted to be a science genius and a professor. Right now I’m doing an internship which is with a research group that works on a field which I had been extremely interested in when I started university. However, I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m completely out of my element. I’m at a conference and I’m not paying attention to the current presentation. I’m telling myself it’s because it’s too advanced for me to understand. But I internally debate all the time if it’s because of a far scarier reason: because I was never a good physicist to begin with, and I ought to be doing something else which stokes my curiosity more. Examples come into mind like psychology, game design, or environmental engineering. So I’m struggling to decide whether this is a case of Imposter Syndrome or a case of being in the wrong field. I think my plan of action is to talk with friends and my supervisors to ask frankly about my performances in their eyes. This will hopefully give me a more realistic objective idea of whether or not I belong here. I want to feel the confidence that I used to feel as I did before. How can one tell if these feelings are the result of an imposter syndrome, or the result of not choosing what you’re naturally gifted or interested in?

    • I think you hit the nail on the head by going and talking to others. External opinions/measurements are really helpful.

  • Alison

    Hi Kyle,

    I don’t really even know where to start…
    Ever since I was very young, I thought anything I achieved was through luck or someone else looking out for me. I only came across Impostor Syndrome a couple of weeks ago and phewee, what a relief! I’ve recently been made redundant and my CV is doing well for me, the problem that I’ve faced is at interviews where I feel the interviewer isn’t going to believe that little old me could possibly have achieved what I have.

    Even just reading your list has helped me sort out (to an extent) what’s going on in my head. I’m going to write down my achievements and my fears and then separate the two lists in my head. I have… They won’t…

    Thanks so much, this is a HUGE leap forwards for me.

    Alison x

  • Gary

    I came across this “Impostor Syndrome” this morning while researching some UX conferences to attend. I am a web designer who, for the most part, feels inadequate, and nearly not as good as other designers. This has caused so much frustration and anxiety in my life. But, it doesn’t start and end with what I do for a living. I feel like my entire life is in a perpetual state of Impostor Syndrome, no matter what the context is.
    I’ve been in and out of therapy for over 20 years due to depression, anxiety, and some social issues. Reading through this article was a huge “wow” moment for me, as I can relate to almost every detail. My therapy over the years has been a huge help for me, and I have been able to identify all of the traits of Impostor Syndrome without ever having know the term Impostor Syndrome.
    This was very enlightening.

  • gEEK

    I want to pursue a film and music career, but sometimes I feel like I don’t have what it takes. I’ve written a couple of songs and scripts, but too afraid to show them because of what others might say. I just don’t want them to think I’m doing this for attention or because “I’m just lost right now “. This is my passion and I can only see me doing this as a career, not a hobby.

  • Adam F

    I quickly forget what people are telling me because I am constantly trying to find a similar personal situation I can share so I can connect with them. If I dont, I feel like I have bombed the conversation and that person wont want to talk to me again. When I do this, I dont remember people’s names or specifications about something.

  • Crystal

    Thank you so much for this article – I didn’t realize I was suffering from this until I read this, but everything applies to me. I’m definitely going to save this and read it whenever I start trying to beat myself up (and am gonna do the writing out your insecurities thing).

    I’ve been afraid to start a podcast about being blind and the struggles I have with music and audio production because I feel like there are so many resources out there about the topic that I would not be experienced enough or interesting enough to do it. I also struggled for a really long time with starting a blog, starting to write radio dramas and produce them, and posting songs on YouTube or soundcloud because I didn’t think anyone would care or want to hear or listen to any of my “crap” – I constantly think that whenever I sing, and show it to someone, that it’s going to be ripped apart and everyone will think it’s terrible and that me pouring everything into a singing and music career will be worthless because I am not as good as everyone says I am. I just constantly deal with anything creative I do, or have done being seen as utter filth in my eyes and even when I do something I am proud of a little seed in my head says “You shouldn’t be proud of this, it really isn’t that good because the mix is off or because you sang that note wrong”.

    I wasn’t expecting that to be this long, sorry lol. Those are what I struggle with day to day, though and it felt good to write out.

  • Kyle, first I want to say I am so thankful I found your article. I literally heard about imposter syndrome 5 seconds before finding your article, for the first time. I struggle with this and it keeps me from putting together my music business and completely committing to it. I will stay up all night putting off the task of doing music work, because I simply don’t feel I am for real, like I am lying to everyone, lying to my wife. The only problem is, I do love doing this, and know im better than most people at it, but somehow still feel unworthy. I am in a music bussiness program at school, and feel intimidated by the young excited, blooming students. I was a veteran, started as a seal, and EOD candidate, but got dropped from those programs, possibly because of this issue. I did get to work for the president for a year, went to Afghanistan and ran multiple marathons and climbed mountains, to prove to myself I am worthy. I still don’t feel it though, and I know I shouldn’t be intimidated by people anymore, and hide it extremely well. But I know something eventually has to flip in my brain if I ever hope to achieve the things I know in capable of.Your article has opened my eyes and given me some possible solutions. Any other advice you may be able to give someone in my specific situation?

  • Felicity

    I want to succeed but I constantly think I’m going to fail. And after reading this, I get why. Not fear of failure. That’s for sure.

  • Mag Dungo


    Thank you for this article 🙂 I have had impostor syndrome for the longest time before realizing I had it. About 30 years! It’s been a crippling and degenerative condition for me and this article is now helping me see “the light.” Thank you again.

    My dilemma: I started with a start-up about 2 years ago. I was promised “A percentage of profits” to be discussed later once we start operations. Also, I needed to reduce my current income by about 70% for the sake of the start-up company. I said fine and took the job. I was going to ask for 5% of net profits once operations started.

    It’s a big company with many sub companies under it’s wing. The new sub company is what I would be working on.

    So in two years, working alone (with help from the company) I built the capital expenditures required for the business, as well as the business plan, materials resourcing, policies and quality manuals, etc. I basically laid the foundation these past 2 years.

    So now we are ready to start operations. So I needed help in operations. So I hired two other people, more experienced than me, but both already over 65 years. I always hire people who have more experience than me as I believe it to be a good practice.

    So out of the blue, the boss says he will give the 3 of us 5%. So that is 1.66% each.

    I was shocked. I expected my deal to be seperate and I was going to ask for 5%, now I’m in a “corporation” with the other 2 people I hired to split it with me.

    My Impostor Syndrome tells me to just let it go. But my wife and family says the deal is not fair to me. Now seeing more clearly, I agree with my wife and family. How can I go through this terrifying ordeal with my boss now? I promised my wife I would talk to him.

    Best regards,

  • Cat

    I have (officially, at least) suffered from depression and anxiety for over 10 years. I am 24. Throughout college I thought I was making true progress (with the occasional hiccup of course). Now, in the workforce… I have advanced quickly, but am afraid of having more responsibility because I fear being found out as not deserving it or not knowing what I’m talking about, while at the same time craving more advancement and additional responsibilities. I’ve been given so many opportunities, but I see my parents who lost so much so quickly, in the blink of an eye, despite having been so successful… I have a hard time appreciating and acknowledging the success I’ve had so far because I’m so afraid that it will soon dissipate into dust. The only thing, up until now, that had kept me going has been my boyfriend who just recently found the most amazing job after having been laid off. Just goes to show we never know what’s just around the corner and how we need to just work hard and have confidence in ourselves.

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  • Alana

    I feel like a fraud because 4 years ago my mom moved to a new place and it’s a small little town with a very locals only attitude, and I was homeschooled so that didn’t help, so I never made any friends my age there. I did go to beauty school there and met a couple of friends. And I have friends from back home but we’ve grown apart. I just feel like nobody wants to hang out with you there unless you are a local, so I always feel like as soon as someone finds out I wasn’t born there they won’t want to hang out with me anymore. And I’m a person who craves companionship and belonging more than anything. And from not having any friends and being bored all the time made me have insecurities about myself and now I don’t even want to make new friends because I feel like they won’t like me and I don’t want to take that risk of getting my feelings hurt. But I know I have to open up if I want to make friends. Now I don’t even know where to begin because everyone already has their cliques and groups and I live in the country it’s not like there’s anywhere you can go to meet people they hang out at their houses and they all went to high school together so they all know each other already. I don’t know what to do.

  • Sippodream

    Three times a week I facilitate a meeting with my colleagues and parents where I feel at any moment someone will challenge my competency and expose me for being a fraud despite the years of experience and advanced degrees I hold.

  • Alec

    Sure, I’ll play. Here’s what I don’t do because I’m afraid:

    I don’t start most of the businesses that have popped into my head. I’m afraid that they’re too impractical, that even if I got them started I wouldn’t have the capability to really see them through. I’m scared that I would start them and they wouldn’t reach product-market fit or they wouldn’t be cost-effective or that I couldn’t produce the code or wrangle the people or the money necessary to really scale them.

    And yet, I’m the CTO of a startup about to raise a million bucks in VC. We’ve grown from 2 guys and a desk to 6 FT, 5 PT, major advisors, and few hundred k invested already. But I still feel like we’re hacks most days, just making things up as we go along.

  • Gwen

    I’m a grad student in the tech sector. The authenticity one hits hard, as does the one on failures. I have a hard time talking to others and filter myself because I don’t want to say the wrong thing, alienate them and blow my chances but I end up doing it anyways with my silence. I pass up great networking opportunities, interviews and even making new friends constantly. I’m constantly trying to be the perfect candidate in hopes of getting that dream job, but past failures tell me all my attempts are futile. I live in Beau Taplin’s poem, Just Short. I am deathly afraid of almosts, and of coming close to what I want just to fall short. It’s become the self fulfilling prophecy. I would love to show you how passionate about tech I really am, but I have been hurt for so long by so many, I am afraid to expose myself one more time. No one knows my real self, because I keep her locked up and safe from harm. I’ll be paralyzed with fear about tripping up that I’ll not realize the truck hit me and kept going, the opportunity was missed, came and went. I’ll panic about the event until exhausted but never prepare. Just exhaust myself in the panic of the fear of destroying yet another opportunity. Then remind myself I’m not worthy, and it was a fluke. I’ll say what I want to say only in my head, or much later after the missed opportunity. I’m surrounded by literally the most brilliant minds in the world, how can I even compare? Why do people keep telling me I am smart when I keep struggling with basic things? Why would MIT talk to me a second time? I can’t be loud. I can’t be impolite and inconsiderate. I can’t be arrogant and puff my chest out. If I don’t like those kinds of people, why should I emulate their behavior even in an interview? Why can’t people see the passionate techie inside this seemingly hollow shell? Why can’t anything feel like an accomplishment? I will stop myself from talking to people I perceive smarter than me just to not have to be caught red handed. I’m a fraud, and I hide from my 2.6 GPA with more degrees I skate by on with higher GPA because they have a lower standard. Any other high caliber school and I would be kicked out. I try so hard, but I feel I will always lose. I put a lot of significance on intellect and my happiness on becoming a researcher. My impostor syndrome is perpetually making me miserable and holding up progressing in my life. Some people get things handed to them, but I have to work twice as hard if not more for the scraps and I am lucky just to get those.

  • tina chavan

    I was thinking about how to put off my insecurities and fears and being the real me that i came across this article and believe me it felt like this article actually has been written to me…i can relate to every point of your article!Every Single Point!!!
    Whenever i think of talking politely or of not being angry..i think that’s not me i can’t be something that i am!I have to be me and i will be betraying myself if i be that!
    i do look average but have a few good photos and i have uploaded them on facebook and instagram….people tell me that i look really beautiful and again i feel like an impostor because i feel that its only my photos not me!
    when i perform really well and people praise me in my college i feel no!i am not good!it’s just that the people here are not that excellent otherwise they would have known how dumb i am and how stupid the performance was….
    i put off my work because i don’t want to be seen as a person who is organized and punctual because i know that i am not and when someone tell me that i am i go miles to prove them wrong!!!
    i do not really know if i will be writing in my diary but telling you all this makes me really free.
    i am 19 yrs old but i look 16..i fear meeting unknown friends of my parents because they comment on how i look so young!!!
    u know the acceptance part
    i have not been able to accept myself beacuse i feel that there exists a
    a version of myself which is the best…i also know that till the time i don’t accept myself i won’t be able to improve but knowing and doing has a big difference…
    i really want to know what you have to say on this!!!!
    i fear myself…i fear so much!i want to be free of this fear!!
    And i loved your articles..the best part is when you realise that it’s not just you there are so many people going through the same!!!
    One thing that i accept is i do have the fears….even when something not very secretive is to be done i try to hide!!!even when i know about something i try to hide!!!because i feel that i do not meet the standards of what people are expecting from me!!This is true!!!and when i sometimes share this with my best friend , they tell me that no u are a really great person i feel as if they can’t see the real me!!!
    Kyle i am looking forward for your reply on this

  • Erin

    Never knew this was a thing till 20 minutes ago, and it’s me. Almost feel like crying because it’s a relief. I’m interviewing for a job soon that I know I could excel at, but have doubts others can see through my poor interviewing skills to offer me the job. Either way, win or lose, I will try, and will not regret giving it my very best shot.

  • Cheryl Wurtenberger

    Thank you! Truly the best article I’ve read. Your suggestions will help me in my artistic pursuits. I just opened a weaving studio where I teach weaving and spinning, I sound so confident explaining the process to people and yet that little voice is whispering they will find out.. So now I have tools to work with, thanks so much..great confidence booster

    All the best, Cheryl

  • Pam

    Hey Kyle,
    I just read this article, very timely in my life. I just started a new job and am paralyzed with imposter syndrome. I am working through your 21 step program and it has reawakened my sense of humor, perspective and realism. While procrastination via internet is my go-to when paralysis hits, this was an excellent find, thank you very much!

  • Natasha Godbout

    I would like to apply as a part-time teacher in university, but I never felt like my credentials were good enough. I plan on applying on the next open job.

    • Good on you Natasha! I hope you come back and let us know when you do 🙂

  • Emma

    Hey Kyle
    Really really glad that you decided to write this article. For the past year I have been coming to terms with my own imposter syndrome but have been dealing with it since I was a little kid. For me my time at school played a major role in the development of these thought patterns. From when I started primary school I was identified by teachers and my peers as a “high achiever” and someone who was “good at everything”. So from a young age I felt identified and pigeonholed as someone who was different or ‘abnormal’. This continued all through high school (which I finished last year). What I found was that these labels all of a sudden defined my self worth. I got good results because I worked hard at things I was interested in but all that effort was never acknowledged because apparently I was an ‘excellence student’ and that standard was just what was expected of me. This contributed greatly to me not being able to celebrate my achievements and believe that I actually worked hard. It became a matter of feeling as though I just “got lucky”, “found a loophole” or wouldn’t have been able to do it if it weren’t for some help or support I had received.
    In addition I also felt as though I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes or to not be good at something. It would shock people if I said I had failed a test. I felt trapped by how people had defined me and that if I showed any weakness or fault then they would think of me as a fraud. In a way I was stuck between a rock and a hard place because by pushing myself to maintain standards I also received comments of disbelief at my consistent results. So then it felt like the fact that I could maintain a high quality of work despite other commitments and health difficulties (I did end up not being at school for a fair portion of the last 3 years) was apparently so unvelievavle and I must therefore be cheating. This enforced the idea that no matter what I did I was a fraud.
    Thins have gotten better but I still find it incredibly difficult to ask for support and to believe that I am capable of achieving any goal I may have (no matter how big or small).
    I am currently pursuing a sporting carreer and as I work my way into the higher levels the need for sponsorship and financial support increases. Up till now I have not sought out sponsors because I have not felt as though I deserve their support. I am scared that any time my previous coaches have told me that I am performing and improving really well has been an exaggeration because they feel sorry for me, and that if I try to present myself to strangers (especially if to ask for financial help) they are just going to see that I’m nothing special and not worth their time. However ove the next couple of months I am determined to put myself out of my comfort zone and to start talking to people about what I’m doing and what my goals are, and then to hopefully get some people onboard!
    It can be so challenging to believe that you have something important to offer the world, and a whole new level to put yourself or there to tell people that you do.
    One of the things I’ve been working on is changing the belief that ‘I cannot achieve the things I want to’ on a small scale for daily activities. Reinforcing the idea that I can perform a task (particularly when I’m training), get it right, and then replicate that task a few times helps counteract the idea of being a fraud because a fraud will usually only get things right once.
    Your article has shone a lot of light on the nature or this pheneomenon and different ways to address it and I am extremely grateful for that! Its exciting to have new ideas for different methods to try out so that I can get on with living a life that I love.
    Thank you and I hope that more and more people who struggle with imposter syndrome read your insight, see that they aren’t alone in feeling this way and that there’s a way to move beyond it.

  • Alek Ivanov

    My name is Alek Ivanov, I’m from Bulgaria and I feel like a fraud.
    I’m currently in high school and I’ve always been kind of the cool weirdo in the group. Weird because I am into business, pickup, nutrition, gym, meditation and other stuff like these. I LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM. Most of my mates are into smoking, drinking, video games, shit food, brainless activities in general.
    My impostor syndrome hits me right where I think hurts most. I’ve always tried helping people around me, showing them how they can live a better life and leave all the bullshit their consuming (physically and mentally). Problem is not many of them get my way of life and think it’s weird and a lot of them say stuff like: ” Just be cool broo, live your life bro etc..”
    I am really passionate about the subjects I listed but I constantly feel I am not “qualified” enough to talk about them like: Who am I to tell this guy he should consider going to the gym or reading about business or whatever. I kind of get it, I’ve always had a problem with implementation and that’s one of the reasons i feel like an impostor and I also think that’s why a lot of people don’t take me as serious.
    This post went for longer than expected and I don’t really know where i’m going with this anymore but there you have it. My little stream of thoughts at the moment haha. All replies are welcome.
    And remember you frauds! Express, do not repress.
    Good luck everyone 😛

  • Marc

    My name is Marc and i feel like i’m not as good as i could be.
    People have always told me I was pretty smart, and I know I am , maybe not as much as they think. But at some point I started to belive that I actually had the ability to be someone successfull and brilliant. I know am not thaat smart but my real problem is that I never do anything. I am interested in a lot of things but every time i start reading or writing something that I know it’s gonna be good for me I just read 2-3 lines and tell myself “bah you know this already, you should, you are too good to lose time with this” and then I stop , and I actually never get that knowledge. So I stay staticly in my bublle thinking I am better than everyone when the people around me is doing things and improving. So then when the bubble pops I feel like I am so behind and late to the game.
    Thanks for the post it really helped 🙂

  • Dustin

    Nice article. I recently graduated from UCF with a degree in mechanical engineering. I never really felt like an engineer and I had decent but not very good grades. I thought that when I actually got the degree that I would feel better and proud of myself. But after receiving my degree I still feel like I don’t know enough. I don’t like talking about engineering topics because I feel like the other person will realize I don’t know anything. I feel like I should know how to fix cars and stuff like that. This imposter syndrome is hurting me because I need to find a job and market myself but I constantly feel like I’m selling broken goods. Im avoiding applying to jobs or even looking for them because I don’t believe that i can do them. I think I am too worried about failure. Im not sure if this helped me but I enjoyed the article. At least I’m not alone.

  • Olga

    So now my ‘pet’ has a name! Don’t know if it makes it better or worse though. Anyway, thanks for the great post, Kyle! Knowing there are other people feeling like that is in itself helpfull

    But since there was a challenge at the end of the post, I’m up to it. Tbh I dared a lot in my life, but was seldom satisfied since… you know: “I was lucky”, “That wasn’t that good anyway”, ”It’s nothing special, even a kid could do it”, ”I was born smart, it’s my genes / moms achievement…” etc.
    Starting from early on I noticed that I have a weird mixture in my personality: being really confident of myself (in some respect even arrogant), but at the same time never being good enough for me, never acknowledging and always criticizing my own work. I can be really proud of others, but not of myself if I achieve the same or even more. I kept believing it was something like huge ego, not enough confidence (if that makes sense somehow) and fishing for complements, as I was told by some. But I doubted the latter since at times when I was criticizing my work I was genuinely sure it was mediocre at best. So the citation of Tina Fey sums it up quite well.
    Even when I got the best possible grade for my final exam at the university I managed to discuss the achievement to death because one of the referees said: ‘The oral exam was not as good as the written part, but since the written part was outstanding you get the max. points”. For me a clear sign that I did not earned what I got. When after that I got the PhD position I wanted, I felt like I totally faked it, my final grade overestimated my skills and I had no clue of anything compared to all the guys around (who have been studying the topic for 4-5 years, but that did not stopped me from feeling like I need to go back to school and learn before I can start working, which was still idiotic, since doing PhD means learning…). In my career the imposter syndrome (feels weird to write it) has not hindered me much, but I could be happier if I haven’t had it.

    And for the final part: there is actually something I do much less that I would like to: every time I start to draw something I end up telling myself, that I got no talent and should just leave it be. And so, sitting down and drawing something is always a challenge, mostly depressing than fun: even if I manage something good a persistent part of me keeps going: ‘It was the simplest perspective’, ’You still screwed up that little detail’, ‘Compared to X it still sucks’… And it gets even weirder if I try to persuade myself to be less ambitious: it feels like giving up on one self. So the other part of me tells: ‘You know you are good!’. And there comes the other: ‘Who knows… But the picture still sucks!’ (Good boy, imposter syndrome, get a treat!)

    So I’ll try to follow the suggestions and see if I can get any improvements.

  • teddybowties

    Ah, the XTC of Bold.

  • Quite interesting post.

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  • Lynne

    Thank you for writing this. I didn’t even know it was ‘a thing’. I’ve felt an imposter recently as I’ve changed they type of job I usually do. For example I was asked to write a letter, I panicked, I thought I don’t know how to write a letter. Reality is that I know how to write a letter. I felt that I was going to be asked to leave because I don’t know how to write a letter. Reality is that my boss has thanked me for taking a lot of his work from him. My imposter syndrome, I believe, stems from once an HR head ridiculed me because I didn’t know how to make an Excel pivot table. I was an area manager in charge of stores and people at that time. The fear of looking stupid makes me think I’ll get found out that I don’t know how to do something. So, thanks for your write up on the subject.

  • Alice

    I never dreamed that this was a real thing! I have just started a PhD and everyone around me seems to have their $#*& together, even other newbies and I have no idea what I’m doing. It hadn’t occurred to me that other people would feel like this too.

    I wonder what we all look like from the other side… Like do people look at us and think we judge them for “not being good enough”. Food for thought

  • Rob

    I had a form of impostor syndrome with a girl I really liked earlier this year. She is ridiculously beautiful, intelligent, funny and emotionally warm. After a few weeks of knowing her, it was clear to me – at least on an intellectual level – that she liked me. She would grab me by the hand, make regular body and eye contact, and spend hours on end with me, enjoying my presence. We also had a strong emotional connection built on similar values and mutual trust. I knew that if I leaned in to kiss her or asked her out on a date things would probably work out well. However, I coulnn’t bring myself to do either. Obviously fear played a big part in this, but I think the main cause of my inaction was the fact that deep down I didn’t believe she liked me. It is one thing to know a girl likes you, but a different thing to believe it. After months of flirting but little action on my part, I think she grew impatient. She has a boyfriend now. I feel like a bit of an idiot, but I know that there are plenty of other amazing girls out there. I have also committed myself to learning more about how to overcome impostor syndrome, which is what bought me to this page. I actually first heard about it from Dr Geoff Miller on the Mating Grounds podcast, which I highly recommend for all young men. Dr Miller explains that impostor syndrome often follows rapid growth. My general value as a potential date has certainly skyrocketed over the last two or three years. I am in good shape. I am part of an amazing friend group. I am confident and have worked hard on my social skills. I think it is just taking a while for my believes about who I am to “catch up” to the reality of who I am. I need to internalize the idea that I have grown astoundingly in all areas of my life and am therefore worthy of dating incredible women. This will probably just take time, awareness and reflection.

    Thanks for the insightful post!
    And good luck to all readers in realizing that you ARE worthy.

  • Christian

    Oh, the greatest irony.

    My biggest fraud is being a fraud. I realized that I wanted to do theater and acting ever since I started pursuing my business degree. I am still battling through it.

    Since I was a kid, I have always felt as if I was meant to be one. But, growing up from a middle class family, its a large risk and never a wise decision.

    Hopefully, I could do something about it. Your post has made me think about it and really see myself in a different perspective. I guess I am so good at being an impostor that I cling on it too much. LOL. Thanks.

  • rick rattray

    My confession about the thing I am afraid to do because I’m not good enough… I was once tapped to lead a company after my boss (and friend) was let go. My new boss, who had eliminated my friend and put me in his place, told me I needed to make changes to the organization or else, adding: “You saw what happened to the other guy.” A friend challenged me to write a book using this as a title. I’ve thought it would be a great idea to discuss layoffs, survivors, and the disruption and turmoil they cause, I’ve outlined it several times over the years, but I’VE NEVER DONE IT BECAUSE I’M AFRAID IT WON’T BE GOOD ENOUGH…

    • Dar

      Rick, just go for it!!

  • Jenny

    Soooo glad I found this! Feel like I’ve totally lost myself recently. I talk myself out of things all the time because I feel like I am useless at pretty much everything.

    I used to be a swimmer when I was younger, I did my qualification to teach swimming when I was in my early 20’s but I only taught at my local pool for around 6 months and I didn’t feel that I was very good. Anyway, I left and got another job for a few years but then had children and decided to go back to teaching as it would fit around my family better. Because 1. I used to swim and 2. I’ve got experience as a teacher, I now feel massively under pressure to be this amazing swimming teacher but the truth is I feel like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. It’s also difficult because I’ve taken the classes over from an experienced teacher and I’ve convinced myself they hate me! Some of them have actually left which just proves my point really. i think because I feel so crap about myself, I’m probably giving off a really negative vibe which isn’t helping the situation! I just need to get my sh&t together, practise a little more, ask for more guidance, be more possitive and realise that it’s not rocket science…. I just need to believe in myself a little more.

    • Anonymous

      I shy away from speaking to seniors in my office because I feel I am not that smart to strike a conversation about interesting things. Also in many cases I feel very inadequate about myself professionally because I feel I don’t know my field well. Keep holding others as benchmarks. I am so afraid of making mistakes. Paranoid to do everything with is atleast considered right by general standards.

  • Tera

    Thank you for this!
    I’ve written and self-published three novels. All of them have been well received. But when I stand before a group to give a reading or try to book a signing I feel sure that I’m going to be “exposed”.
    That feeling holds me back from doing the one thing I love.
    Now I don’t feel quite so alone.
    Thank you again.

  • TKC

    I stop myself from making friends because I feel like know one wants to know me. I stop myself from putting out art work because I feel like no one wants to see it.

  • Bernice Lees


  • Walter

    Oh gosh. I have discovered this term “impostor syndrome” only today, and it explains those daemons that have paralyzed me for years. What I avoided in my life? Two year ago I was offered a job in the US, with H1B visa and stuff, 93K/y. I went through five remote testing/assignments/chat conferences phases only to decline the offer at the end. The fear was paralyzing, I was shaking and crying. I couldn’t do it. Three weeks ago another recruitment agency contacted me about applying for a position at that very same institution, and I am still debating whether to jump in, not being able to break the deadlock. But this time I know what is the name of the beast I have to fight, and I know that it’s not just me who is going through this but that I am one of many. I was googling “impostor syndrome therapy” and this brought me here.

  • i discovered a talent(?) that i have when i was 47 years old. i create sharp focus, detailed portraits of peoples’ hands that give insight to their personalities or a particular emotions. i’m good at it, too. i found myself in the midst of a world of other artists, shows, commissions, newspaper articles, etc.. i even have 5 paintings that are part of a permanent collection hanging at the Pentagon. all of this happened over the course of 5 years.

    with all that notoriety came the deep sense that i didn’t earn it. wasn’t worthy of it. that i was a fraud… as my involvement in the art world grew, so did my friendships (solid ones) with many amazingly talented artists. REAL artists. artists that created works of art that interpreted what they saw *artistically.

    from the start i separated myself from the other artists because what i created was more photo-realistic and less creative. i still consider myself less of an artist because i believed my art was fraudulent. i continue to separate myself and hold back and away from everyone because compared to the ‘real’ artists, i feel like i’ll be outed and unworthy of any praise. WTF.

    i’m just thinking out loud here because your article has given me a platform. after reading it and the comments that followed, i feel like maybe i do fit in with a group of folks. talented folks. so thanks for that………..

  • I have just finished a four week cycle of weekend art shows. Having people constantly walking by my booth and silently……or not so silently judging my work sure does chip away at my confidence as an artist. I, myself, can be highly critical of my work which doesn’t help. I don’t have a degree in Fine Arts which, at times, can make me feel like a big ol’ imposter especially when I’m around those that do.

    • Hi Lucy, I’m currently visiting my mom and she saw your site on my computer… she’s spent the last five minutes admiring your work. So there’s one person who loves it 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I loved your article! I am a freshman in college wanting to join Student Government. It’s really competitive to be part of the Senate and I feel as if you have to have a certain personality to be successful! I feel like I am being an imposter when I see other succesful, confident students and hear that I have to “sell myself” through networking. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself and remind myself that I’m trying with good intentions and that I’m still learning! Thank you for your article!

  • Please tell your Mom that she is my new best friend :).

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  • D

    I’ve always felt like a fraud. In high-school I was a track star and finished top 3 in the state and never felt proud of it. I figured I should’ve done better and got first. When others compliment me I can’t quite accept it. I earned a scholarship to a big ten school to compete and did decently, but I held myself back by limiting myself l. Believing I didn’t have the capacity to get better , and it became a self fullfilled prophecy. I also picked a general major I had no interest in because I didn’t believe I had what it took to do something that took effort or hard work. After I graduated I never applied to any jobs that required a bachelor’s or higher because I didn’t want to pass an interview only for them to hire me and find out I wasn’t who I “pretended” to be in the interview. So I stayed in jobs that I was over qualified for, letting fear stop me from reaching for anything challenging or higher. I am very artistic and now started photography as a hobby, I enjoy it and I believe I have great potential but it’s hard for me to really enjoy it without criticizing the hell out of my work. Others are bewildered as to why I haven’t really tried selling my work or seeking clients. The few times that I have done that, I battled intense anxiety and self doubt and crippling self criticism, almost feeling sick for accepting the money for the job I did, even when the clients were pleased with the result. So now I’m stuck in a place where i have intense ideas, passions and desires to start businesses, help and inspire others, but I’m also being crushed by this feeling of inadequacy and fear of others exposing me for trying to be something I’m not. It’s a horrible feeling that sinks into my gut and leaves me stagnant. So yes this syndrome is keeping me from taking the risks I deeply yearn to take, and keeping me in a trap between passion and urgency and fear and torture. It sucks. Thanks for your vulnerability it’s helping others. Feels good to vent.

  • D

    I don’t even know if what I’ve experienced is considered a form of this syndrome. I feel like I’m acting ALL THE TIME. Even right now. I feel like I only do things to show off. I read books on the bus and although I enjoy the book, I mostly enjoy the way people look at me. I enjoy pretending that I’m different. It’s not even about people, even when I’m completely alone I feel like I’m acting. I’m a fake, I believe that. It’s not about starting a business or taking an action. What action can I take?
    I wish I wasn’t so good at acting. I’m so good at it that people never know. There have been people who have noticed, but I intuitively stay away from them.
    I can’t tell what’s real and what’s not anymore. It seems like everything I do, I do it for attention. I’m a loud person but I never express my real opinions: I just act. I get carried away easily and then I regret it.
    I think, maybe I gotta become the person I want to become. Quitting social media, being less loud, more self-disclosure, less fun-making. Yes, I need to stop talking my mind. I need to choose my words with care. I need to say only what I mean. I should stop trying to sound smart, witty and sarcastic.
    I think I feel better now. Even though I’m still acting, at least I will try. And I’m gonna leave this comment here so that I’ll never forget what I need to do. I’ll need to stop acting as if I’m weird or awkward. I need to simply let go and be me. Oh God I’m so confused. It doesn’t make sense. Do I need to take more control or to let go? I wish I knew what to do. I know that the ultimate answer lies in Him. I believe in God. I believe in God. That’s the thing I rarely tell people but I have total faith in God. You know, I’ve heard this “you’re too smart for that” response and it HURTS. I don’t know what I’m writing anymore. I think I will start being more self-conscious and I will not try to catch other people’s attention or to sound smarter than them. I will be real.
    Maybe even I can become real.
    Who knows.

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  • Chris

    Thank you so much for this!

  • Hello,

    I never though in my LIFE that what I had is something I had (like a disorder) I always though that I am a lazy bum that wants what he does not deserve. But after years of loathing myself I realized that loathing myself is another way of being lazy but with the extra part that is the heart ache.

    I know that I should do better, I should do more effort, I should stop relying on my whit to manipulate around doing actual hard work, I should say to myself that I did not do my best at a certain task, simply get off my a$$ and work. But meanwhile (and that is ONLY after reading this post) it is impossible to get all this credit without doing anything worth the credit, mainly just be honest to myself and stop being a 35 year old spoiled SELFISH baby.

    Please let me know what you think, I will never forget this favor.

  • This is wonderful!! So hilarious but absolutely spot on. I experience Impostor Syndrome on a daily basis. Thanks for exposing it for what it is.
    I am a writer and every time I post a blog or think about publishing something I have this awful sense that people–like my big sister who thinks she knows all about me–are going to rat on me. You are not who you say you are, you impostor!
    I am also a TESOL professional living and working in Mexico at the moment. Last week I was invited to give some presentations at a school. When I arrived, they had everything ready for my presentation. I walked up to the platform and I thought, OMG, I have no idea what they want me to tell them. It got worse when they announced, “Welcome, Doctor Foss Constance.” I am not a Ph.D, and I never told them I was. Somebody had given them the wrong information. I was mortified. I had to live up to my PhD status. Talk about being an Impostor! But I chilled out and just told them what I knew, useful information that would help them. It worked. I was authentic.
    Thanks so much for coming out and saying it for us!

  • niti

    well to start with i am applying for grad school, i am not sure of the interest i pursue is really my interest, I like the subject and i also claim that I like it but sometimes this feeling creeps in do i really like it, grad school is a huge expense.. i feel stuck

  • I was hold back from publishing new content to my new website after realizing that all of the topics were already covered by the big guys in the game! But for sure this article has shown the other side of the story. Thanks a lot for this wonderful treat, it really helps!

  • Anon

    I am a startup founder that has been trying to get my startup off the ground for 2 years. Now that is finally happening I feel that I am not good enough to get it done. I have been avoiding sales and I am self unconscious because I didnt finish college (because I had horrible grades) but I have won several competitions and have gotten to travel the world through the startup I created.

  • mary

    I am a PhD psychologist with nearly 20 years experience but I still feel like a beginner. For me the worst is comparing myself to others. For example, I get down on myself after reading Carolyn Hax’s advice column (Washington Post) because I could never come up with the answers she gives to her readers and I feel like I “should” be able to. Same if I go to a conference, same if I hear other psychologists talking about their cases and conceptualizing them in a way that I had not considered. Feeling like a fraud has made me overprepare for my appointments and has made me withhold comments in the presence of those I feel are smarter than me. Thanks for your tips, I hope to try some.

  • Melissa

    This is awesome – I needed to read this. I have been wanting to start my own blog for the time and share my ‘expertise’ but worried “I’ll be found out”. I didn’t even know the imposter syndrome existed – I thought it was just me! Thank you so much for writing this, I feel I can move forward now and pursue my dreams!

  • Savino

    I think the whole stop thinking you’re so special thing struck home withe me. I have been afraid to talk to people and often go off alone. I’miss starting to think it was due to that. I just feel that I had to do something cool andown get out. Really it kind of sucked because while everyone was having fun I’don’t be afraid talk because I felt someone was going to call me out and say that I’must not as cool as I was. I was afraid to talk about things I enjoy like anime politics or runnnin.because I felt I didn’t know enough. I was also afraid to wear shirts with bands or TV shows, because I felt someone would question me and I would know nothing. I have also refrained from leaving comments like on youtube because I’miss afraid that it won’t be as good as others, or someone will read it and be like this is dumb, or really because I just feel like there is something g gear expected from my comment. I read this post because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing at work. However, now I’mean ready to take on this disorder. Thanks!

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  • Vaso

    Thanks a lot for your article!
    I just turned 26, I have a degree in Economics and an MA in Politics but I always loved the environment and chose environmental directions in my degrees. However in the last years I ve volunteered a lot for wildlife centers etc and now I was offered the amazing opportunity to volunteer for a wildlife trust in my favorite country, Scotland. I love the work involved and the places I see, as well as the country and its people. I know that knowledge-wise I am not in a too bad position compared to the other volunteers because I ve read a lot on my own and volunteered even more.
    The impostor syndrome for me kreeps in because everyone else in the organisation has environmental/biology training and I m the only one with the odd degree. I feel like I don’t deserve to be here and that it is mere luck, that it is a mistake. Like the only way to feel good is if I had a similar degree which I might not get for several years to come.
    I still don’t know though if it impostor syndrome or I am plainly an impostor without a degree.
    And it will get worse when I ll have to find a job in the environmental field :/

  • Jellocat

    Wow. I never knew this was a thing. I’m glad I found this article. And yes, this is a HUGE help!

  • guest

    Wow! This post saved me! Thank you for your sharing! It’s only people who experienced it who can write out such advice that points directly to the heart of problems.

  • I’m an online grad student that lives overseas, has never met my professors, and almost always shakes out a perfect mark on all my assignments. I started wondering why? Grad school isn’t supposed to be this easy! I have a full time job, a family, hobbies, and rarely have to spend any time studying the course material. Grad students are supposed to be chronically tired and studying 24/7! Is my degree all just a big hoax? Am I sliding through this degree only to get kicked in the teeth when I get a job in my new field? And these questions really bogged me down when a friend recently offered me a job to work at a university as a researcher…I thought, there is no way I can do what they are asking without them finding out I know nothing. With encouragement from my family and friends I still went for it and have come out the other side feeling a little less like an impostor, but I still can’t shake the entire feeling of being a fake. Pretty sure it will always be there to some degree, but you just have to push it out of the way and get on with things. Support from family and friends has definitely been the one thing that has done the most to help me.

  • Brooke

    I didn’t know impostor syndrome was a thing until I heard it in the dialogue of a TV show last night. I have been suffering in silence for several years, never sharing my feelings with anyone for fear of their reactions. I’m still taking it all in, but hope that reading this and other articles about it will help me to overcome. Thanks.

  • Nicole

    I havent always had trouble sleeping at night, so here I am at 4am trying to identify the issue. I think it started in grad school. Almost instantly, I was making the highest grades and receiving great accolades for my research. Both of which shocked me. I found myself constantly thinking “how have I duped so many people into thinking that I know what I am doing??” At the time, this sentiment was constructive to some degree….a motivating force. I was terrified at the idea of letting people down (now that they all thought I was so great), so I pushed myself to continually achieve. Sleeplessness during that time in my life was l, I thought, just part of the job. Getting a PhD is supposed to be hard, right? But here I am, an assistant professor in a very low-stress, low-expectation position, and I wake up every night with unyielding thoughts of my failures from the previous day. I will replay every conversation that I had and analyze it for mistakes…anything from mispronouncing a word to not knowing an answer. It is clear to me know that this pressure is entirely endogenous. Everyone is happy with my performance, except me. So what is going on? Am I punishing myself because I feel like I need to keep up the facade?

    I have never heard of imposter syndrome. I first saw the term in an article about the high rate of mental illness in university faculty. I googled the term and found your piece. So much of what you say here resonates with me. I always thought that my low self-esteem coupled with high expectations was a good thing…it makes me work harder and longer…it makes the accolades that much sweeter…but I think it’s teaching me to hate myself. In reading your post, I think I am uncovering the tip of an iceberg, and I can feel myself starting to let go. You have genuinely helped me and I really can’t thank you enough.

  • Getting out if a job I love in a bad environment, and avoiding connecting with good people.

  • I don’t enter art comps because I don’t think I have any chance of being selected let alone winning… well… to combat that I’m entering the adelaide parklands art prize. I still don’t think I have any chance but doing it anyway.

  • Thanks so much for this blog…it made me laugh and feel much happier when I was otherwise spiraling into a “i’m a fraud” episode. Imposter Syndrome is so common in academia and one thing that I have found helpful was suggested by my psychologist when I was finishing my PhD: that is to write a sentence about something you are proud of about yourself, on a piece of paper in BIG writing and stick that on the wall above you laptop. It worked wonders for me because I constantly reminded myself of my own achievements. I guess the only thing is that now I’m sitting in an office where others can see it and I took it down because I didn’t want to be perceived as arrogant! Nonetheless perhaps I’ll just keep it in a notebook next to my laptop…hey it works!

    I can be profoundly shy in meetings and not say anything…sometimes this is because I need time to think over things and finally know how to respond way after the meeting…I just hardly ever go find the person and offer my opinion later!

    • Thanks for sharing this Annette. That’s a great idea!

      I just scanned through your work, really really interesting stuff. I’m looking forward to going back and digging in 🙂

  • wendi

    Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who is 54 and has to acknowledge age-related cognitive decline? I want to change my career from technical graphic arts to technical writing and perhaps some web programming. I have a great resume (4 year business and 2 year (obsolete) programming), and decent skills, but as I told my sister: “Past performance is different than current ability.” I don’t learn like I used to.
    …Talk about making one feel like an imposter…

  • Heather

    I am fighting “imposter syndrome” and feel like I am failing. This helped. Knowing someone else gets it. I am still convinced that someone made a mistake giving me my Juris Doctorate and now that I have failed the Bar 3 times, I am proving that. But, now I am wondering if I have been self fulfilling my negative prophecy by not believing in myself I’ve set myself up for failure. The quote by Maya Angelou spoke to me, she is one of my heroes.

  • r w

    I have been able to make a comfortable living for me and my husband (both in the same small handmade craft-related business full-time) for the past 5 years. I feel I have a lot to offer to others trying to “quit their day job” and earn a living running a small independent online business.

    I want to give workshops on how to run a small business online and earn a decent living from it. And I actually started writing a “manual” full of tips and advice and specific knowledge I have on the topic. However, half-way through writing it, I started feeling like I don’t actually know what I’m talking about, that there are people who are way more knowledgeable on the topic, people who are more successful than me, people with MBA’s or at least a business degree, or people who make more money than me from their business.

    I also think of the phrase “those who can’t do, teach” a lot. Yes, it’s true I’m looking for other ways to bring in an income because our sales have hit a slump. If our sales were through the roof, I wouldn’t have the time or volition to give these imagery workshops.

    I worry that that’s what people will think about me and my (yet to be) workshops. That I’m “failing” in my business and that’s why I need to give workshops instead.

    These thoughts have been preventing me from finishing my manual and reaching out to people who I think can benefit from my help. I’m trying to push through this and get my workshops started next year. But I always think – “would people actually pay to hear me speak?” “Do I really have anything to say that they can’t get off the internet for free?”

  • Annette

    I have major impostor syndrome….fortunately, not attempting my dreams scares me worse than being outed as a big phony,… so I push hard. What it means though is that I lose a lot of sleep over invasive thoughts like “oh – another news article about my projects… I’m gonna be so embarrassed when this fails and everybody finds out that I’m just winging it all along”.

  • frankie

    I feel that I am unloved for who I am because I’m not a perfect person.

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  • Dina

    I started a path to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree at 38, did so well I continued on to get a Masters. I come from a world where no one is that successful. I still have yet to finish my thesis. I graduated with my B.S. Magna Cum Laude at 43. I have a 3.9 GPA in my Masters work. I always feel like I don’t deserve it because, I don’t really know. I’ve been a single mom all my life and I don’t know how to accept my successes. Your article was interesting. I’ve never heard of imposter syndrome before. I hope it helpsme. ?

  • Teresa

    I haven’t written the book that everyone tells me to write. Because I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid that when I start it I will never finish it. I’m afraid people will think I’m lying about the events that took place in my life or things that I have accomplished. People will view me as thinking I’m better than them.

  • The first time I ever felt this, I was finishing my history thesis in college. I couldn’t believe they were giving me a degree for reading books. “That’s all school IS,” The Husband kept telling me. “Reading and learning.” I graduated with a 3.94 and barely believed they’d let me slide through. I didn’t believe I deserved that piece of paper.
    I’ve written two young adult books and been to numerous writers conferences, but I haven’t published anything yet. Someday. Someday…

  • Tom

    Kyle, thanks for taking the time to share this (even though you did not think it was a good idea at first). I came across your website today for the first time. This morning I was laid off from my job because I was the third highest paid employee (after the two owners) and was able to be replaced at a much lower salary. The funny thing is, I completely agreed with them doing it, as I would do the same thing if I was in their position. Definitely feeling the Impostor Syndrome today!
    It is strange because I am actually very happy about being laid off. I really wanted to get back to working for myself ( I have started up several businesses through the years and it is still my passion) I guess I just don’t make a very good employee LOL!
    Where the Impostor Syndrome is attacking me is the fact that I am 50 years old, a husband and father of three and should not be taking the risk of starting another business, especially an online business! That is what the voice keeps telling me, but my heart and my passion tell me to once again follow my dreams! I love the challenge of building a new company from the ground up. I love the challenge of learning a new industry. I long for the freedom that being successful in an online business can give me and my family. Every time I have faced these challenges in the past, it has turned out better than I could imagine.
    Thanks again for sharing just what I needed to hear today. I will take the writing challenges (even though I hate writing!) and let you know how it turns out.

  • Grace

    I was a very chubby little kid, as in 15-20 lbs heavier than i am now and also 5 inches shorter (5’3 full grown). I feel like an imposter that I lost the weight, and that I am attractive. I feel like I’m still that chubby little kid hiding inside some skinny person’s clothes and body. I feel like any moment I’m going to lose my mask and revert back to being a blimp and no one will love me and everything in my life will fail. It sounds so ridiculous reading it back to myself that I truly believe that!

  • Beny

    I feel like an imposter pretending to be an imposter. I’m ok at things and a bit more confident in myself recently but I’m aware my imposter feelings are deep rooted. I think I was aware that all of this was going to happen eventually from a very young age —writing that makes me feel like an ego maniac, actually it’s the fact that I secretly think I’m more insightful than others that makes me an ego maniac, how can I be more insightful than others? Perhaps I am but I’m really really scared to think that’s true incase I’m not which might be really embarrassing to discover but would actually be the best thing in the world, people that think like I do everywhere, what a fantastic nightmare. This shows I have a fear of intimacy. This is my first vulnerable blog, I’m 24. So for me imposter syndrome is tied to a fear of intimacy / fear of vulnerability / failure etc and when I naturally try to ignore these fears and get on with life I can’t because I feel like an imposter even more because I’m ignoring my feelings.

    One of your points really hit me, I even sighed like I’d been winded. I’ve not said to anyone “I’m an imposter”. I need to find someone I can confess my imposter feelings too as soon as possible and hope that they can laugh it off with me, hell even agree. I’ve told people I have depression and that I’m not feeling too good but the part of my depression I can actively do something about is linked to an insane feeling called —I don’t belong, I was a hypersensitive child. I’ve felt like an imposter since the age of around 10 and the flip side is that everyone else is a little bit crazy and I’ve just got to keep swimming and playing along. I have thought I was schizophrenic as a child, hearing voices, extremely imaginative, but then so were a lot of adults in my life and maybe I was just playing along and very lonely. I need to find my people. Being bisexual was alienating, not the sexuality obviously, that’s great, but being me where I was, was difficult. I understand now that we’re all imposters, making it up, but some are oblivious to this they seem so secure.

    So I’m tired of feeling and being pathetic. I’m pretty hard on myself but I do like myself, it took a while but I like myself 100% I’m number 11. So I’m waiting for parts of me to catch up with my self. I’m ready but I’m immature. I’m a fruit, but I’m not ripe. I’m a lion but a cub. Or I’m a worm on the ground. An egomaniac with self imposter syndrome to rein in the bs. I don’t know if its worse to be a imposter or an egomaniac but I know egomaniac would feel better. It’s probably not even being an egomaniac but just being myself which happens to be manic. Wow what if this is me still struggling to be myself.

    Things aren’t bad so I don’t know why I feel like this. I’m not fully employed, which hurts my self esteem. I’m an ok artist, maybe a good one I don’t know, I have a degree (I don’t know how to use it, but I have one and I aced it —I’ve never described my degree like that before but I thought I’d deliberately practice tooting my horn. What I usually think is that I got away with getting a first class honours).

    I really want to write and do on occasion but I tell myself that I’m being an ego maniac, and that there must be anything else I could be doing with my time, like not writing at all. Why do I think like that. How do I get over myself. I think I need someone to tell me I’m a good writer. Someone I don’t know. Then I’ll think ah, they aren’t saying that because they know me, I must be good. So messy.

    My last point is that because I’ve said no to so many things and parts of myself to get where I am today it’s become an unnecessary bad habit. It might have been a false necessity at the time, some kind of coping/defence mechanism but I guess now that I’m an adult, I don’t really have to answer to anyone. I respect people, I’m not a bad person, I admit I haven’t helped anyone on a large scale through active deliberate giving yet, but in time I hope to kick ass. So I understand I must start saying yes to everything. I can trust myself to do this, right? …Right? Yes, inner child, you can trust me.

    Your post was great. Thank you so much for writing it. I didn’t expect to write so much in response, but perhaps for once, I regret nothing.

  • Anne

    Well this is scary to put out there..but here goes. Firstly, this was so great to read!
    I’m at a position where I’m waiting to hear back from a really really fantastic job opportunity. The issue is my start dates been delayed and despite the reassurance by the company that they’ll contact me soon, I’ve already begun to think that I’m the reason this has happened and that I don’t deserve the position.
    Unfortunately other things have crossed my mind too like I’m not good enough for the role/there are millions of other people who are probably more experienced than me that they could replace me with.

    I’ve always put myself down since my early teen days and I’m at a stage now where I’m so done with my past and ready to push myself out of these negative thought patterns.
    Its crazy how this article has made me aware of my thought process though! And its the most reassuring thing ever knowing you/others have experienced my exact feelings!

    Thanks soso much!

  • Ale

    Hi! Thank you for this article. I actually feel very shitty up to the point that these running thoughts makes me unable to do anything productive at all, even though I have clients I need to help and gdi I even have a degree with honors to do what I’m doing right now. I’m still trying to internalize some of the stuff listed there, such as “don’t compare to others”, “realize that nobody knows what they’re doing”, and “take action”.

    Printing this list and posting it right beside my desk. Thank you!

  • Young

    I’m glad I found this post. I have been feeling less of myself since I started grad school, always feel like I don’t deserve to be in the class and like everyone is going to find out I’m not able to cope and didn’t qualify to be in the class. This impostor feeling about myself has made me perform below par and I have zero to no confidence in class and during exams. But reading through this post, I’m feel more than I’m upto the task and can perform better without the fear I leave my room with everyday. I will start the 30mins writing and see how it goes. Thank you.

  • John

    Top read. Nice to know its not just me then.

  • Kim

    I’m a singer/actor who studied theatre at one of the nations top universities, trained privately for decades, and performed professionally for decades. I’m also really good with kids. However, I’ve hesitated to actively seek out voice students due completely to “Imposter Syndrome.” (I didn’t know about this until about 10 minutes ago, though). I have recently been trying to overcome this on my own and to face my fears. But, now that I know it’s not just ME, it’s not just MY problem…I feel so much more encouraged to reach out and help more kids.

  • Shannon

    Thank you for the great insight!
    Before reading this I knew very little about the ‘authenticity’ of even Imposter Syndome itself. I feel as though I’ve dealt with it for a long, long time but just put it down to anxiety or depression.
    More recently I’ve pushed myself into academia, doing both a Dip of HE and starting my Bsc in less than a year after not being in academia for 4 or so years. Ever since I started in January I’d told myself that I was out of my depth and I wouldn’t achieve what I wanted. I knew what I wanted and what I needed to do, but there was always a voice in my head saying “what the fuck are you doing!”.
    Not only this but my boyfriend has a PhD, so I always have this HUGE pressure put on me to succeed academically (not by him, by myself. I’d feel like I failed him if I didn’t do well).
    My classmates have all come straight from college, and are all bright young minds, and I feel so out of depth or out of touch with my degree choice. I’ve told myself a thousand times that I can’t do what I’m attempting. I’m only a few years older than them but feel so out of touch and intimidated by their confidence.
    I feel as though I need an academic credential to have some value or self-worth, or to be taken seriously. However I know that when, or if, I get there I will still have doubts.
    I’m just hoping by that time I will have more self-belief and confidence that I can achieve what I want without the approval from others.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Kyle!

    Thanks so much for writing this.
    I am a new grad student and have been struggling a lot to keep up in my classes – which led to putting my classmates on a pedestal and putting myself down.
    Your tips were exactly what I needed to hear.
    Thank Google for putting your article near the top when I searched for “impostor syndrome” and thank you so much for sharing it.
    Now I shall go study and do homework instead of having a pity party for myself.
    Have a great night!

  • J

    I’ve been feeling like a fake pro basketball player for about 5 years, since 2010. I’ve been on “semi-pro” teams, travel teams and even took a trip out of the country once, now twice to “play basketball”. The first time was a disaster which only made me feel like more of a fraud, on top of some people calling me one. So I returned back to the USA feeling fake, like I wasn’t “good enough” to play pro basketball in Europe. Fast forward to now, another opportunity came up for me to “play basketball”, in Germany. I feel like this is getting the best of me because I can’t put my all into it for fear of the “secret” getting out, whatever that secret is. I don’t want nobody to know, I want them to think everything is an illusion. This REALLY, REALLY SUCKS!

  • blake7991

    I’ve felt like I’ve become an imposter. I started playing guitar, holding myself to the highest standards being an actual fraud around people saying oh I know this and I know that when I really didn’t in hopes that someone would come to me asking me to play for them. Well that day came sooner than I thought. But I was still being a real fraud bc even tho I did believe on what I was doing, I had no idea what I was doing in honesty. I pretended like I was just having a bad day or what have you and I guess it became worse with the more attention I got. I never did anything too special but some people said it was good and it was awesome. Well it kept feeding me and feeding my ego and kept putting myself in denial that I was actually no good, I just started but I felt like a star at the center of attention of parties when I really didn’t know a c chord from a d chord. Of course now I’ve gotten alot better ik the chords, I’m learning all the scales. Have alot better feel than ever. But all that aside from now, I hold myself to being like synyster gates. That guy, he has amazing feel. Can shred like no other, live, recording, anywhere without missing a note but maybe twice every tour that I know of. And I want to be just like that. That exact same feel. The exact same abilities. But with trying to do all that, I’ve lost my love for it. I’ve lost my own heart. Along with many other things that have gone on. I’ve had depression, broke up with someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone I loved to death. Tried to drink away the pain but that ended up hurting me. I’m sure I was becoming a bad addict very young (18) I stopped enjoying that to hating it. In a very short time. I stopped enjoying music. After I stopped drinking I’ve had anxiety attacks, bad ones. I feel worthless alot. I don’t have a job. And that makes me not want to be social bc I feel like a bum. I feel like people don’t hang out with me bc they have to buy me stuff (even tho they offer and I don’t ask) I still feel like crap really. And then feeling all that I don’t find myself attractive. I don’t have the confidence to talk to girls bc I wouldn’t be able To have a relationship. And it goes on and on. And going deeper I’m a high school drop out. I used to play football and have all these dreams of finishing school. Somewhat thinking about what I might go to college for then the coaches smashed my dreams hard. Put me in a position I didn’t care about. I stopped becoming dedicated. I always struggled with my grades bc I could always workout with them. That kept me going for a little ways then I couldn’t even go do that stiff and lost it. It’s kind of been the story of my life. I don’t get to completely act on the things I want to do and carry them out to the fullest. :/ And it’s hard to me to go to sleep. It’s hard for me to get up. When I get up I do have moments of positivity but not alot. I have alot of things and I need to talk to a dr but even that I keep getting told I CAN’T do. It has to wait. That’s just tip of the iceberg too.

  • Kritika

    I am new to finding this out about me. I somehow doubt if its only me feeling that way and it not being true in reality. I just graduated this year with a lot of confusion and despair for not having anything planned ahead. 6 months since,I feel I am not capable enough to find a job and have been avoiding phone calls. I think I don’t have anything to offer and I don’t know stuff. I am not smart enough. The world would be the same if I didn’t existed.

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  • Ben Smith

    Hey, Kyle,

    I stumbled on the post today, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As I write this, I am staring at my computer screen at work, trying to begin my “preappraisal self-evaluation” for the year. Each year, the company I work for requires each of us to evaluate ourselves and bring the evaluation to our yearly performance review. I’ve done a lot for my team this year, even taken on a new role specifically created just for me based on work I did last year. I have been staring at the form on my screen, thinking how much I feel like a fraud since the work I do isn’t governed by a job description and I am largely responsible for defining my own success. Every entry I make in the form has felt like padding my results to make the year’s work look good.
    After reading your post, I’ve begun to reevaluate my work. I did do good work this year, and it’s ok for me to own that. I am not a fake for defining my own success and then living up to it, or even surpassing it occasionally.
    Thanks again for the post,


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  • Stacie

    Wow is all I can say. I remember telling my daughter I felt like a fraud. I do thank you for this post!!!!!

  • sonali

    I was crying halfway through. I have a very big case of this. Since my childhood most of my teachers have said that I will do something big. I feel as if I talk big about things I actually dont know anything about. Even now I am confused.

    Sorry for rambling on.

  • A Uselessly Specific Person

    You do realise you just confirmed every PhD’s impostor syndrome by firmly labelling their expertise “useless”? So hey, thanks for that.

  • Shannon

    I love this blog!! I wasn’t aware that I was doing this until someone pointed it out to me, it all makes sense! I think back to the times when I don’t think I’m good enough/smart enough/have any right to add input etc…which is actually more often than I’d admit.

    My biggest problem is that i deny how smart people seem to think I am. I think this is mainly because I’m introverted and so my brain is like ‘nah uh we’ll just store that away where you cant get it’ and so when people learn that I’m in university they bring up some topic that I’ve studied a million times and my mind goes blank. I just stand there as if I know nothing about the topic because nothing comes to mind. It’s the most frustrating thing! I know that I have the info stored somewhere i just have no access to it unless I’m writing about it. Because of this I just don’t think I’m all that brainy 😛

  • Myriam

    I feel like a fraud every single day… I’m 37, people think I’m 28… I have a successful career and I earn a lot of money… Meanwhile I think it’s just a fluke… I’m a single mom owning my own house… I feel like I robbed it or something… Every single day I think that it will all crumble down… That it will fail…

    Thanks for these thoughts… I will ponder on them…

  • Laura V.

    I found an article about Impostor Syndrome, I didnt knew what it was but something made me read it. I did and I feel like an impostor already for thinking that I suffer from this. Then I found your post and it made me realize that I need to star making actions before this eats me alive. Is this horrible feeling like you cant never do anything good or even successful. I have this idea of a small business and I see myself do in it but the next morning I think “Im not that kind of person, I cant do that” I never thought this had a name, not I will try to treat this as it. Thank you, I know you wont see this I dont even know how old is this post but thank you.

  • Dakota Lizee

    I’m so afraid of being stupid, that I become stupid… when you’re too busy worrying about being stupid, you don’t have the mental space to concentrate on what you’re actually supposed to be doing. Or, you refuse yourself the space to try and fail because you’re so certain you’ll fail that it seems silly to try.
    I’m so embarrassed by myself….I wonder when I will figure this all out?

    ^it’s so cyclical!

    I want to offer some advice someone offered to me: Do not say, “fake ’til you make it”, because this implies a level of authenticity that, as we’ve all been reminded here, does not actually exist; rather, try saying “practise makes perfect”, because practising self-care, esteem, and love, is not about some innate authentic self, but about living, interacting, morphing, and ‘multiplicity’. It’s about being.

  • ime

    First off Kyle, Thank you for this article. It has really broadened my thought about having imposter syndrome – Heck i wasn’t aware of it, just thought i had occasional self doubt. Yesterday after mass, i went for coffee with a fellow parishioner who is currently a doctorate student and we used the opportunity to share each others worries. That was when he told me about it.

    my undergraduate and masters degrees were both in Project management, i graduated somewhat earlier than my peers and even as friends and family sort of praised my accomplishments and mannerisms at time – i’d always think, if only then knew.. if only.

    After grad school i got a job immediately, was there for 6 months until my contract was up but then i expected to have been made permanent. Followed through with 2 different companies that led me on by inviting me in for 3 interviews with senior analyst roles but then i wasn’t picked. to cut the long story short, for a month i was on the market until i passively applied for a more senior position as a project manager at a Prominent Biotech firm. First, i was shocked to have been called in for the interview with highly intellectual Directors. And oh! did i mention i was told to prepare a presentation? but because i felt inferior and not worthy of the position i decided to get there without my slides but ended up presenting with marker drawings on the board room board. Anyways, few days later, i got a call from their HR that they were impressed and wanted me to start immediately. i was happy but kept thinking, oh my gush what have ai done – I’ve deceived these people and they will eventually know i don’t remember anything from my masters degree not to talk of undergrad!.

    Its been over a month working there, I’ve constantly battled anxiety whilst heading to work and being at work that i didn’t know what i was doing, and that one of these smart people would call me out eventually. But, at the same time my directors and constantly given feedback of the amount of value I’ve added so far to the department and what great impressions I’ve made so far. Still, i worry and fear that I’m not worthy of my job title or of the responsibilities that follow , etc. for instance when at a round table with other subject matter experts, i want to shrink into the chair or just be invisible or when i actually talk, i feel i don’t speak audibly and clear enough for others to hear because i feel i’m an imposter there. Imposter syndrome .

    With that said, the first step is to name and be aware of your demon and thus be able to talk it. I am now – thanks to you.

  • RIJ

    I’ve avoided interviewing for a new job to prevent the companies from finding out I am actually not that good as a programmer. Especially when I think of all the smart people I know. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that the first interview I went to, they asked about 10 questions and I only knew about 1 answer. At my current job I am the only guy that knows anything about the programming language I am working in and therefore nobody does a code review which makes me feel even more like I am fooling them

  • Saxon Williams

    I don’t hang out with certain forums of people because I fear they will talk behind my back and hate me when in actual fact they’re my mates.

  • Saxon Williams

    I don’t hang out with a certain group of people out of fear they will talk behind my back when in actual fact they are my mates. I also don’t talk much out of fear of being laughed at or being hated. I don’t hang out with my original group of friends out of fear of being seen as uncool.

  • Kendall

    My impostor syndrome has been giving me panic attacks- has that happened to anyone else? I’ll start to feel like I’m having one, and then try to make myself stop it right away, and then it just gets worse because I feel like I’m so stupid I can’t even control my own brain and body. I recently left my high-paying data science job at an insurance company because I was so miserable and bored- I applied to about 15 companies online, and got an interview at every place I applied to. However, when I showed up, I freaked out. I’d have a glass of wine before going so I could act ‘normal’ because I was so scared they’d see my anxiety and wouldn’t want to hire me. I thought if i can trick these people into thinking I am just a happy go-lucky driven person, they will hire me. I’d try to prove that I was- and I’m sure I didn’t say much of anything, because I didn’t know what they considered to be a ‘happy go-lucky driven person’. I never once tried to be myself. I ended up not getting a job offer anywhere and quit my job anyways. I try to tell myself I wasn’t getting those jobs because I literally hated what I was doing and it’s lucky I didn’t get one (but I don’t believe myself, I think I’m just telling myself that so I’ll act like a normal person)- I’ve always loved writing and art and fashion and somehow I became a data scientist. Because of that, I think, ‘Wow, I’m such an imposter I let myself become a data scientist, i’m so screwed up I’ll never get it right’. I decided, with the support of my family, to pursue a writing career. I’ve always been a good writer, and loved doing it. Whenever I’m sad, I try to google an article or a blog about someone going through the same exact thing who ended up being okay. I want to write stuff like this for other people, so that they know it will be okay- because that’s what I want for myself, but that would be a lie. I’d be posting lies. I can’t stop panicking or having anxiety and it makes me feel so worthless.

  • Therese

    I recently applied for a post-doc position in a very prestigeous university. My first reaction after getting notified that I actually got the position was to to cry. Not happy tears but tears of fear and panic because they would not see through the fake selfconfidence I displayed in the application and interview, discovering that I am actually quite slow and useless when it comes to producing papers and preparing presentations. That I constantly freak out about every little performance or intellegent argument I have to produce. The worst part, of course, is knowing that you wouldn’t be such an impostor if you didn’t spend so much time obsessing about being an impostor…

  • Pam

    uff, I think I refused a very good job because I though I was not able to do it 🙁
    (when other with less experience than me can do it)

    • Dan

      I did the same thing, thrice.

  • Leigh

    My imposter syndrome is that despite knowing that leaving my relationship is the right thing to do, I’m fooling myself that I deserve a better partner. He has the basic trappings of an adult and is a good person, but is not emotionally functional. Who am I to think that I can be with someone who will meet me halfway, rather than expect me to validate him all the time?

    I WILL leave him because deep down, we both deserve a chance at a relationship that is mutually fulfilling. No one is good or bad here. We’re just people trying to love in incompatible ways.

  • Mackenzie

    I don’t know how I decided that the comment section of a post that I stumbled upon accidentally was the best place to tell my story, but I’m going to have to talk about it eventually so here we go.
    I’m not like the other people joining this discussion. I don’t suffer from what you describe as “imposter syndrome”, because I don’t just think I’m an imposter, I am one. I have lied about every aspect of my life to all the people that I’m close to, and even the ones I’m not. I have lied about things for so long, and in so much detail, that lying has become easier than deciding which aspects of life I made up and what actually happened. It scares me to know that no one around me knows anything relevant about me that isn’t a lie, and I wish it wasn’t like that. But I’m in so deep that I don’t know if there’s a way to dig myself back out. So I decided I would start with some complete strangers on the Internet.

    Thank you, if you read all of that without clicking away, I hope everyone here comes to terms with who they are as well.
    -a complete and total liar.

  • Jeremy

    I’m Jeremy and this is the story of my first Imposter Syndrome experience. I’ve tried to make it easier to read by breaking it up because it ended up longer than I expected. I hope that reading it might help you. Writing it might have helped me, but I don’t know yet… Perhaps I’ll find out when I hit “Post as Jeremy”, or when I hit Ctrl-A -> Delete. Ah, who am I kidding?

    After failing twice at the BBC Young Speaker’s competition during the initial round, I entered the Digital Voice competition and made a short video accompanied by a blog post. I consistently put off working on anything until the last moment, and this was no exception.

    I knew the topics available to choose from and let them float around in my head along with a constellation of less-than-stellar ideas until finally something aligned; I could see the big picture. I would focus not on a particular manifestation of the topic, but on the topic itself: Ideas that could change the world.

    I wrote a script then gathered my laptop, a microphone and an audio processor – which could serve as an adaptor between the microphone and the computer – and set up in front of a book-case, finding a dead lightbulb conveniently placed to use as a prop. Many takes down the line, the sun began to set. Having run out of light, I set about editing in some screen overlays, cropping the video and adding background music to set the mood. It sounds like a lot of work, and indeed it was a lot of effort, but it only took about a day to complete my 1:30 min video and blog post, once I had started working on it.

    Some time later I received an email inviting me to the winner’s ceremony, having been selected as a finalist. On the way there I felt like I already knew I had won, which was preposterous, but confirmed when I arrived by the reactions of certain people to my arrival. Amongst a list of sponsors’ speeches, the videos were shown and the winner announced. Indeed, me.

    I had done public speaking before, so appearing on stage was nothing new to me, but I avoided the collective gaze of my fellow contestants. Their videos seemed to be so well thought out and argued, but they had used internal microphones and some with only the video as-is. Had I cheated by using semi-professional sound? I had bought it beforehand because of an interest in Beardyman on youtube… What about by obsessively tweaking the minutia of my video? Or going meta on the prescribed topic? My approach and technique were so different that it couldn’t help but to stand out, and yet I had done the entire thing based on intuitive insights and random chance. It was as if I had used a cheat code, and the other players knew it.

    After having extricated myself from the slough of emissaries, the photographer and the reporter, (Who knew that being asked for a quote was not a request for a quote by my favourite author?) I found myself outside gazing in wonder at the people walking by oblivious to what had just happened in my world.

    As a result of that, I went on to take part and win a debate on climate change and was sent as a junior reporter to a conference on the capture and storage of CO2 as a green initiative attended by representatives from many household-name companies, along with two other winners. Oddly, this time I don’t recall feeling the impostor syndrome, possibly because it was obvious but excused, possibly because I was not alone or just possibly because being there was the prize itself. Also, I had a job to do, so perhaps my note-taking simply distracted me from deep existential thoughts. 🙂

    I am Jeremy, (Yep, still.) and this has been my story.

  • Artem

    Thank you for sharing the story. It is very much like my own.

    I am a computer science PhD student too and I just can’t get a paper published even though I have enough information after some research because I feel it is worthless. I haven’t started my thesis yet, there is lesser than half a year left. My advisor said my that I am already better in this topic that he is and I should publish something, but still I think I am a phony and soon everyone will know about it after that.

    The saddest thing for me that I always wanted to get PhD and become a researcher but it seems I can’t manage it. I don’t know what I will do after that, because until recent time it was the thing that drove me forward, I just can’t imagine doing anything else. I already have a software engineer job and I hate it despite it has good enough conditions. I feel like imposter on my job too.

  • Chelsea

    I feel like an imposter at school. Initially I went to a university straight out of high school and withdrew before the first semester ended. I was away from home, dumped by my boyfriend at the time, and didn’t know who I was or what I was doing in college. After working for a year I went to a local community college. Two years later I transferred to the university I’m at now. When I graduate this spring, I’ll have been working on my undergrad for 6 years. To be honest I never thought I’d make it. In high school I couldn’t imagine myself in college or living passed 21. I just felt like I didn’t have what it takes like everyone else. I’m terrified of finishing school; I don’t think I’ll find a job to support myself better than $11/hr. because I don’t feel qualified enough. All public school encouraged me to do was prep for college- now what? Sometimes I don’t know who I am or know what I want. A lot of times I feel like I’m holding myself back from being successful but when I think about doing something different or moving forward I just want to crawl back into my shell.

    There have been moments when I felt qualified and was proud of myself. Recently I got a research assistant position at a lab on campus, however now I seem to only think about how late I am in getting one. So many other people find them sophomore year and junior year, working their way up to internships and co-ops by the time they graduate. Advisors and professors have told me to apply for research assistant positions and study abroad programs before it’s too late. The thing is during those times I was barely keeping my grades up and my financial situations were never favorable for study abroad. Still, I could’ve found and applied for scholarships instead of sitting around doing nothing with my life. Saying all this makes me ready to graduate though, because I see that these thoughts are bullshit and I have so many ways to go after I graduate.

    I also feel like an imposter in my relationship with my boyfriend. When we argue, he’ll give me this look that makes me think “he’s finally seeing the real me, he now understands that he made a terrible decision to date me.” Of course he hasn’t broken up with me yet, and I realized with time and experience when I stand up for myself instead of retreating I don’t feel like it’s all my fault. Even when I have it in my mind that we should just break up, the conversation never gets to that point. Being ready to end the relationship in my mind helps me to not be afraid to say no. I honestly think most of the time I feel like I’m to blame for the argument because I don’t stand up for myself.

    I can’t decide whether I should just delete all this and call it a good exercise in self-reflection or if posting it would do more good than I can imagine.

  • S

    I feel like a huge fraud and I feel like I’m even more of a fraud for saying that out loud. I compare myself to the best, but also the worst – who am I to feel bad when there are others in the world struggling over bigger issues? Who am I in comparison to John Doe who is 10000x better than I am? People always comment about my dedication and compliment me one way or the other, but I can never internalize it. For some reason, it’s just absolutely fucking SHOCKING that anyone thinks anything of me. When I practice my craft and do something flawlessly, I can’t give myself the credit and I give luck and “timing” the credit. I’m struggling with confidence in my abilities and have started to read books to “hack” my mindset into a growth/positive one and it’s been helping me to become more conscious of my ridiculous thoughts. I’ve confided in friends and they think it’s mostly in my head and a lack of confidence, but I put in so much work that I actually do believe that I have the ability and the capability to be successful. I guess it really had to do with feeling like a fraud. I find that I’m always in constant shock of anything good that I do and I NEED internalize my successes instead of writing them off as “dumb luck.” I need to give myself more credit. I should almost be pissed that I would give luck the credit instead of myself given how much work I put in towards my goals.

  • Deb

    I almost didn’t post this because I am afraid my story has nothing to do with impostor syndrome and I am actually a fraud. You’ll tell me: My parents tell me all the time that I have a strong personality, that I am direct and take no shit from nobody, but the truth is I rarely speak my mind to others, even if they try to take advantage of me, I feel likee this “strong straightforward woman” personality everybody thinks I have is just something they wanna see and that I like to believe I am, but actually I am not. I feel like I’m always expected to know the answer, to do things right, to be the top gun, but I am not. I came into this blog because I was looking on the internet for people that felt underqualified for their job, just like I do. Truth is the person who hired me is friends with my father, yes I got an interview but I honestly feel somebody with way more experience should be doing this job, specially for what the stakes are, everybody on the media and political life in my country is lookin at this project and I’m just a 26 year-old girl trying to figure out how to do this job. With some responsibilities I feel like I do ok, but with others is just overwhelming. Two other things I want to do but feel like is not going to be good enough: my podcast and my travel blog, I feel like there are just better people out there to do it. That’s my story.

  • Loser

    I never knew that anyone else felt like this. I am terrified that I will be found out. That everyone in my life will realize that I have been faking it all along. I even think I am faking it. My husband assures me that my successes are real and that I am a good mother and wife; however I cannot see any of this. I am nervous that anyone will find out about me. They will find out I am bipolar and depressed and have social anxiety and I will be a pariah. I can’t be “open” about my mental illness to the public because I feel that I may lose my job because of it.

    I am even nervous around my mom and sister. Scared that they will see me and see that all of my accomplishments have just been coincidence and that I am, well, AN IMPOSTOR. I guess your point kind of nailed it. Because I think I am better than them, I am afraid of the reality that I am just human, like them. They look at me and admire my accomplishments, my “happy” family my big house and good job. I feel like I have to uphold their illusion of perfection. If that breaks I won’t have an identity.

    At work, I am always sure that I am just about to get fired. That they found out I have no idea what I am doing and they have to let me go. I can’t blame them. I also can’t believe that I have gotten away with it for this long. It’s just a matter of time.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Justin

    Great article! I feel this way all the time. I feel that i should know more than i do, and one day someone will find out and it will all be over. I feel like I’m stuck in my job because i would potentially be found out if i try and go somewhere else. The only way it gets a little better is when i study more, but i end up ignoring the fact that i know more in one area, believing that i’m still a fraud. I’m way too critical of myself, which in turn makes me more critical of others. Many thanks for this article Kyle!

  • AB

    I just started a new job. I’m three days in, tomorrow is my fourth and i nearly had an emotional breakdown when i came home tonight. I’ve known about imposter syndrome for quite some time and I’ve known that i suffer from it, but i’ve never taken action to move past it. Technically, I’m not qualified for the job I’m doing in IT. I don’t have a degree in an IT field, but i do have a bachelor’s degree. Computers have always been my free time thing. Home servers, building computers, troubleshooting, etc. I’m self-taught. I’m aware that there’s a ton i don’t know and I’m terrified of making mistakes – not so much with my personal posessions, but with others’.

    I understand there’s the adjustment period when starting a new job, but I’ve been overwhelmed with just how much i think i don’t know.

    All of my co-workers have been working at the company for years so it seems like everything they do is just second nature to them. I just dread the moment when they call me out for not knowing something that i should. Basically a textbook imposter syndrome emotional response.

    Growing up, i’ve always been told that i was a “smart kid.” I never really agreed with that. I just thought it was because i just seemed that way or that they just didn’t know/see the real “me” that i experience.

    What I’m getting to is, yes – I have imposter syndrome. I know I’m not alone, but that doesn’t make it too much easier for me to overcome. I’m not certain I’ll ever 100% overcome it, but I’m trying.

  • kk

    I first experienced this as a very small child, being very frightened about feeling there was nothing inside me and so imitating grown up’s gestures, actions and speech. It felt like cheating somehow and I have always felt guilty about it. I had to have a response for everything. Saying “I don’t know” marked me as less than I should be, hence shameful, hence guilty. I have always felt “inauthentic” because I never had to study for exams, I could whip off a paper the night before, success in most things came easy to me. Then I looked at others who were unable to succeed without very hard work and I felt ashamed at the ease with which I succeed. This self-absorption has been very detrimental to my actual life. Thank you so much for the insight.

  • Cat

    I’m scared to apply for programs and fellowships because then readers of my application might find out that I don’t understand the topic well enough and my perception of events and education models is wrong. I fear they’ll think I’m missing some key piece of information.

  • LivingLife

    Thank you , Kyle, for the article. I almost never read articles of this nature but stumbled across this when having a particularly bad time with some negative criticism from one of my board members. I think my Imposter Syndrome is at its’ height when I start second-guessing my decisions because of criticism. I am the CEO of a relatively small company, have a MBA and, on a fairly regular basis, really start to wonder when the gig will be up and I will be exposed for just not being that smart. While I don’t want others to feel the way I do, I am happy to know that I’m not the only person in the world with this issue. This alone makes me feel less like a fraud.

    • Sam Browne

      Ah, you wrote exactly the same reason I ended up on this page (via Google) too – I’m a woman in a Board Position on four companies, I find I over achieve in order to ‘prove’ that I am what I say I am, evem if no-one is questioning my credentials or acheivements, and then I get exhausted and burned out. Sometimes it feels like I carry the whole burden of the business (which is ridiculous) but I can’t help the feeling that if I break, someone will find me out, and then everything will fall apart … so I continue my ‘fraud’ for another day, over achieving, over analysing, over-exhausted.

  • Lom

    I dropped out of college because of the feeling of constant anxiety. I was in good terms with everyone there, was handing the subjects on the same level as my peers, yet… I was feeling like I was doing badly and couldn’t master the profession of my choice. So I dropped out.
    I told myself that it was the program, that it was too difficult for me (it was a rather high profile college), so I applied for same specialization in a different college. Same thing happened. 5 years have gone since then and I spent most of the time without a job, experiencing the same feeling even when I do find one.

  • Harleykitten

    I suppress myself in interviews because I feel fake and that all my experience and success is a result of luck and that I have no part in it, and that if I claim a part in my success, that I am lying and that I will surely be found out. I have also recently been given an amazing opportunity and I cannot help but feel that these people have been deceived rather than acknowledging that they do see potential in me, and that I in fact do deserve this experience.

  • Ryan Jones

    I have a book I’ve been wanting to “birth” for almost 20 years and I’m so afraid to show it to anyone.

  • Sarah

    I want to change our political system. My work is in the field of communication and I support people to hear each other, to hear beyond the words that are said to the deeper meaning underneath. I dream of a political system where representatives at all levels listen to each other and try to hear meaning, to deeply understand what is being said, before even considering responding. A system in which the energy of all those involved would be directed towards understanding, finding common ground and working together, rather than towards opposing, criticising, undermining and attempting to win. If someone has to win, then someone else must lose. I dream of a system in which everyone matters and no-one loses.

  • Tricia

    What is this and why do people know of it? How do we get over this when we just feel painful all the time? Like never can give enough. Just makes me feel worthless

  • Ninahiuee

    You and your words are amazing! Just reading through the things people are saying touches my heart. It just shows how we are all so hurt in one way or another and are in desperate need of healing. Thank you for setting up a floor for these conversations to take place, im sure that being able to vent and also see that we arent alone, lifts a huge load of their shoulders! You are amazing! Thank you!

  • Lily Shadowlyn

    Just wanted to say thank you. I suffer from crippling imposter syndrome (and until recently I didn’t even know that it had a name, or that it was common). It wasn’t until my husband and best friend, while I was mid-breakdown at the prospect of making banana bread (I’ve never successfully made it and I take pride in my baking), confessed that they had similar fears in their respective areas of expertise. For the first time, it didn’t seem so insurmountable and I decided to do what I always do when faced with a new challenge: research. This is, out of the many articles I have read, the MOST helpful. I immediately sent it to my husband and best friend. Now, we’re going to try and face our fears head on, together.

  • mimi gold

    my husband is a very rich and welding man.will make the money together
    few month later,he started hooking up with bad friends .on my noted he
    was having an affair with another woman .the family lawyer call me an
    asked me if me and my husband had a miss-understanding ,because my
    husband has change the name writing on the wile.he took everything we
    have to the his girlfriend ,meaning that i don’t have any share in the
    family.i was frustrated and discourage.until a friend of my
    advice me to visit a spell caster so that all my problems will been
    solve within 48 hours then i contacted the spell caster she introduce to
    me.dr ogun spellcaster,drogun promise that every thing will been
    alright.few weeks later my husband came back home ,on his kneels
    begging,asking me forgive and forget about the past and face the future
    ahead.right now i am in full control of my husband access.a big thants
    to dr ogun who bring back my husband .if you have same problem kindly
    contact dr. ogun in his via [email protected].

  • KAS

    I have avoided publishing my work in a peer reviewed journal because I fear I will be found out as an impostor, I am not the world’s best record keeper but the work I do is good. Thank you for this article – it is very helpful.

    • Charmaine Smith

      I’ve dealt with similar anxiety!

    • Nour

      Very useful, thank for bringing this to our attention. I am now fully aware that why I not sending papers for publishing though I wrote them long time ago. Keep reading it for perfections but not even send the, to

  • Wizardrous

    I’ve had an idea for a book I want to write for years but I’m so scared to write it because I’m afraid if I do everyone will hate it.

  • John Muller

    I haven’t committed wholly to the work I’ve recieved for my fledgling freelance business because I feel like I don’t deserve the work, or the excellent clients I’ve somehow gained.

  • paul

    Unlike most of the imposters commenting, I have found that the feeling of being a fake has tottally debilitated me with everything I have done and everything that i have wanted to do, even when talking to people. Unfortunately I am now completely comfortable in not engaging in life. My pursuit for perfection, honesty, authenticity were futile, what I didnt realise was that perfection is not perfect, that difference is what make us uniquely beautiful, no body is perfect even if they appear to be.

  • Dani P. Tong

    I was once told I had a math learning disability in middle school. Fast forward 20 years, and I’m in a job that requires statistics, stats computer software, and a lot more smarts than I think I have. And I just keep asking myself, “How did this happen and when are they going to find out I’m actually not any good at this?”

    • Nathan Deunk

      I can understand that.

      I was told I was extremely ADHD as a child, but I’ve been in the military for 22 years now, and just got promoted again. Clearly, ADHD isn’t a horrible thing; plus, I’ve found that even in areas I feel that I’m not so good at, like statistics, I’ll go to tutors and find out I know more than they do – I just have a higher standard of what “being good at it” means.

      Just do your best to recognize that you’re good at it and try to move on to other areas that won’t sap your emotional strength.

  • Guido

    I feel like a total fake in all aspects of my life. Over the last four years I’ve helped build a business and increase my personal income by almost 60% because I’ve done well. I still think everyday “this is they day they figure it out and fire me.” I try so hard to be a good father to my kids but feel like I let them down at every turn even though they clearly don’t feel that way. I even have long-time friends that are as close as siblings and consistently think “if they knew what I was really like they’d never talk to me again.” Thank you for the article!

  • Julie Orelien

    You made my night, thank you so very much! I always hang out with people who are at least 2-3 years older than me and I don’t even know why I compare myself to them when they have way more experience than I do in life. Instead of comparing, I’ll be learning from them ?-From a 20 year old woman who always belittles herself because she thinks she’s a fake, when she’s very smart actually.

  • Sofia

    Its awful I feel like a fraud all the time, everything I do and say I just don’t understand it, how can I feel like a fraud when I’m being myself and I’m usually not in the moment I focus much more on how I look or how what I said sounds that what I’m actually saying, it’s a weird feeling I hope I overcome it soon, anyway thanks for this article it was really helpful.

  • Jane

    I have avoided taking initiative with my work because I constantly tell myself and believe that I don’t know anything about designing websites, even though I have done it for eight years and my projects are generally successful, some quite successful. I just can’t seem to accept that my work is real, that I am not fake, I think that people are believing a fabricated resume even though it is factual I still worry it is fake and I have lied.
    So I avoid pursuing ideas I think will help my you work be better because I disown that it is my work! Obviously it’s my work, but by pretending it isn’t, I compromise on making it the best that I could.

  • Tm

    Wow, what did I just come across?! I have been going through this almost my whole life, but have been to scared to fully come out and talk about it. I am 25 and have avoided finishing any program at school, or even building any strong relationships because of it. I am even questioning every word I write down because I worry about my Grammer, speech, and think that I am crazy and should be in a mental hospital. But in reality I haven’t done anything different compared to anyone else. If anything I have avoided living because of these thoughts, and have depended on the lead of others rather than making my decisions. Following others has left me scared of myself. Recently I’ve closed myself up so much that I am dealing with it alone, because my environment is manipulative and downgrading. This article just gave me that little push I needed.

  • Tony

    I’ve worked in a marketing career for twenty years and most days I think I really haven’t achieved anything at all despite colleagues and bosses telling me I’m a high performer with a great style. I avoid actually talking to people sometimes in case they see right through my facade. How ridiculous is that?

  • Steven Givhan Phd

    Very help post.

  • Nils

    I was always very popular and successful with girls and people in general but I always felt that everybody liked me because I was pretending to be that “cool guy” but was actually just an imposter.

  • Amanda Korsell Brown

    I think I have always felt like a fraud. I have raced through life trying to “be the best,” “do the most,” and “know it all” and have walked away from pursuing my passion (classical singing) for fear of failure. I have always been so successful in all my undertakings that when something posed a real challenge, I wasn’t equipped with the understanding of how to persevere through my own limitations and instead would simply switch careers. I feel that I am still doing this, this “running away” from difficulty thing, but at least now I know why. Hopefully, I can start tackling my obstacles head-on instead of shirking them for something easier and more comfortable. Thank you for the great article!

  • Blank

    I am double-majoring, doing research, and should be graduating a semester earlier. On paper it sounds so impressive. Everyone, my family and friends, think I am very smart and that I work hard, but I don’t feel like that is true. I keep comparing myself to others and feel like I am not smart enough like them. It helps reading this article and other people’s stories. Thank you!

  • Moonlit Breakfast

    i’ve always been praised as “the intelligent one”, “the bright one”, “the one that will succeed”, always had good grades (i guess this is a sort of a measure in our lives?) and with very extroverted and gregarious behaviour clicked and connected with people- they percieved me as funny and confident. however, i have always felt like a big sham, a big disappointment waiting to happen… or be revieled. i believe(d?) all of my school/work success was mainly a matter of luck and magically getting by somehow, that if anyone dug a bit deeper they would KNOW, would SEE it all oh so clearly; and the personal connections i made- well, the majority i did not feel was genuine. in a way, i felt my extroverted behaviour was my way of shielding the real person i wam/am – a person who would actually prefer to keep things simple, low-key and in a small, thight, close-knit circle. a person that is anxious and going from super optimistic to deeply saddened, dare i say- suicidal (this comes and goes in waves). on the other hand, i do enjoy all the dramatic HUGE gestures and epic story-telling, i do have so much fun with it, and i believe i make people feel better, lighter and more playful- bringing them on a journey to childhood and an easier way of functioning; but still, deep inside, there is always the lingering feeling of never being good enough, never being true enough (whatever that means), never knowing enough, never doing enough, never taking ALL THE FACTORS into consideration (even though, logically, i know one simply CANNOT EVER take everything into account as one cannot EVER know everything…. and even what we know is smuged by our preconcived notions of what is what and our perception).
    i was lucky enough to have plucked the courgage a few years ago and discussed this anxiety/fear/problem/issue with a close friend and he made me look at it from a bit different perspective, to consider that maybe, just maybe i might be wrong about it, that i am dismissing my potential; he reassured me everyone feels this way sometimes and was ever since more than open and willing to discuss it if i had a crisis.
    a bit later this lead to another fried opening up to me and another. it’s a relief to know i am not alone in this, in a way it is also a relief to share it this way now, as i am currently in a very strange spot in my life, questioning all of my decisions and figuring out which way i should proceed. i am trying to HEAR myself and find my voice, to decide what my next step should be- i have my mind sharp and working, i am slowly tuning into my intuition and seeking the balance i need……….. and then this impostor feeling starts to wake up again!
    so- i looked it up, found ytour article, jotted down a few lines in a notebook took a deep breath and i feel a lot lighter. thank you!
    will it go away forever- probably not, will i do my best to tame it?- sir, yes, sir.
    thank you for your post and to all the commenters- thank you for your comments, you are all very inspiring and i believe/hope this will be the additional little push i need to make a next big brave step.
    hang on in there!
    lots of love

  • J

    I do my job half assedly, I do not push for more because I think I’m barely holding on as is and I put a brave face on every time something is expected of me.Sure I get the job done, but only enough for others not to notice my lack of interest and skill, I wing it most of the time. I feel inferior to others and do nothing about it lest I’m exposed for what I am.I get praise from my bosses but those just bounce off of me. i feel the same when socializing and take great caution not to be exposed for the introvert I am, like it’s a cardinal sin.I also constantly compare myself to others and their life experiences and regret doing none of the things they did like I couldn’t just go ahead and do 90% of them.

  • Tom

    I’m a filmmaker. I’m told many times I’m talented at what I do and know a lot about my craft etc to the point where people are now approaching me for advice. I feel like people think I’m more capable than what I actually am though.

    A few years ago, I was told by my closest friend that I used to make films with that I had become arrogant, cocky and came across as ungrateful to himself and the people that worked for me (for free). At the time I did’t acknowledge this about myself. I guess I was blind. But now looking back retrospectively and after the wake-up call from my friend, I realised that I had made a lot of mistakes and done a lot of selfish stuff that affected the people around me. This was clearly apparent and not just all in my head.

    Since then, I’ve been extremely self-aware of my actions and the things I say (especially in public) which quickly lead to extreme self-deprecatiion. I think I’ve done this because I don’t want to come across as the ‘arrogant, self-centred person’ that I used to be in fear that I will be judged and lose more friends. It’s gotten to the point now where I struggle to accept a compliment and deflect people who seek me for advice. Being humble and modest is a great thing, but being self-deprecating is a different thing entirely.

    I’ve put myself down so much now that I feel like I’m not capable of making the films I want to make and being able to help others get their films made as well.

    • Eileen Bild

      Feeling like you are gets you down and is keeping you stuck where you are. It seems finding a way to “climb out of the well.” can get you back on track and bring out your best self. A great tool is to replace any negative feeling with ones that feel better….like enthusiasm, positive expectations, feeling empowered. You can ask yourself with each of these words what is associated with them that gets you motivated and allows you to be in your passion? Hope this helps! Eileen

  • Ellen

    I avoided hanging out with people because I felt like a fake around them, I read this post a few months ago and I remember denying it, but now it’s so obvious.

  • Elizann

    Thanks for posting this. I have had terrible issues with this “syndrome”. Not knowing that so many people have it. Of course there are different levels of severity. I have had a lot of anxiety in my job and in life period. It more comes with what others think of me. I know within myself that I am ok but its more with what others think is what completely consumes me and drives me to the point of emotional instability. I have called in sick numerous times because I was up all night worrying about what people think of me. Its like I already know they will see I am a fraud. I am surprised I still have my job “hopefully”. I just had another episode last night where I was suppose to go to a meeting with the “bigwigs” at my job and immediately uncontrollable fear gripped me and I could not shake it. Its like I don’t want them to know I am a fraud and really don’t know much as “I” should. I guess I really need to realize that Im not that important like what Kyle was saying. I’m really not as self important as I thought. Do you know how hard that is to grasp? Dear God this is almost like coming to the realization that my whole perception of myself my WHOLE life has been painfully WRONG. This is all I have known.

  • Elizann

    Thanks for sharing, this really helped me see I have been doing the same thing.

  • Greg mofo

    I just landed a job at a firm I worked for nearly 10 years ago. They didnt want me to leave but I needed more money. Fast forward a decade and now Im going back for a bit more than Im currently earning.
    The reason why? I got passed over for promotion at my current place. I was stagnating there, pinned to a highly skilled job that nobody else could do. Now Im returning to my last place of work, same industry, but to do a completely different operation that I was trained on near 20 years ago and havent done for 10.
    Im worried I have forgotten it too much, that I no longer have that skill, and that they are going to question why they are paying me so much more than anybody else there. Its a manual skill so if you dont use it you lose it. I never had any problem learning it originally but I feel like they are expecting me to hit the ground running due to the wage they are going to pay me.
    I keep telling myself I can do it, its like riding a bike, but I have the overwhelming ‘imposter syndrome’ feeling. Anxiety is setting in.
    I really need to get that first day over with. They loved me when I was there before.

  • Jazz

    Singing is a great talent I have, but the last time I shared that ability was at my nanny’s funeral. I really did it for mom. I’m afraid to sing in public again. I can’t sing in church, or just to mom. It’s hard because I even dream of making an album, but I fear being alone in trying. Sorry to read negative, but I want to share my talents and this one haunts me.

    • Zynah

      I used to have this fear. I still can’t sing, but even when I was alone in my car or walking alone in the forest or even just in my bedroom with my headphones on, I was terrified of making a noise. I used to sing into my hands or wait until everyone had left the house. Maybe you can try humming or whistling as you walk down the corridor? Or sing when no-one is around? Or even sing fake songs in a silly voice to get comfortable with making a noise?

  • Zynah

    I have a postgraduate management qualification and 10 years’ work experience… in management. But for some reason I ended up in a minimum wage entry-level job because I got divorced and made redundant and my confidence took a nosedive. I love my job — love all the people and actually love the work itself, but I get these daily panic attacks about the life I’ve given up. I want to skip a couple of levels and apply straight for the top jobs. I mean hey, I meet all the criteria.

    But every time I go to apply for something I get this grip of fear. What if I’m not qualified? What if I’m not what they’re looking for? What if I fail and everyone finds out and then they essentially torment me for applying for something that’s too good for me? What if I am fake? What if I have all these awful personal qualities that I can’t see? What if other people secretly think I’m so so shit, and they won’t give me a chance? Or what if they give me a chance and I fail?

    It’s kind of worse because in my family I was taught to fake it. I was pushed into University several years too early by my parents. My mum’s advice was: “just lie… then work really hard when you get there.” Obviously it didn’t work. Now my heart breaks at all the experience that I’ve got that I’m too afraid to try and use. Just because I think, *what if someone else doesn’t agree that I’m good enough for this?* Unsurprisingly, some people ARE quite bitchy… I’m an experienced manager in an entry-level role… it is a bit weird…

    • Allison

      I hope you will apply for those higher jobs that interest and scare you. If you told me in an interview, “I had some setbacks but I’m qualified and anxious to get back on the horse” I would give you a chance!

  • Danielle John

    Thanks so much for this post! My brain believes you but I need my anxiety to get on board… I received some criticism at work for the first time ever, and now I feel paralyzed. I procrastinate constantly because I’m afraid of making another mistake. That, in turn, prevents me from doing good work. I don’t believe every other person who has told me I’m a rock star – I feel like this criticism was the only true feedback I’ve ever received, and everyone else is just being nice.

    • Dawn

      This is exactly what I have been feeling. Having to over think the simplest decision because I am scared to do something wrong.

  • marrinm1l

    I’ve been interviewing people to work for me lately and it’s been excruciatingly difficult. I feel like a hypocrite asking them questions and evaluating their “worth”. I think that they’ll figure out what a bad manager I am and that I don’t know what I’m doing and they’ll just walk out. Sometimes I think I don’t select the resumes of the most-qualified people because I think they’re better than me. So what if they are. I should hire people better than me. If I could do it myself I wouldn’t need them.

  • Bruno

    I’m constantly told by my boss that they like my work, but I can’t stop feeling that I just do the bare minium to present. And that my work is always incomplete, and that I should now more about what I’m doing, so I could deliver a better result.

  • Tony

    Having worked in IT for about a decade, I have been told time and again by my peers, colleagues and seniors that I am great at what I do.When I feel the need to change jobs, I feel like there is so much out there that I should be knowing but I simply don’t know it all. The rational side of me tells me that it is practically impossible for one person to know it all but there is the other (sometimes way louder) thought berating my lack of knowledge.

    I will change my job because I am dissatisfied and unhappy with my role and contributions and I am pretty good with what I do. Typing this out is making me feel better already. Thanks Kyle!

  • Amanda Sweeney

    My friend once told me to pretend to be confident until you actually are. When I’m around people these words helped me so much and people almost seem like they are enjoying my company. I feel so good about myself… Maybe too prideful. When I’m alone I doubt everything and worry about my true self showing… an insecure, desperate, selfless person that no one wants to deal with.

  • Lola

    A couple months ago i painted a portrait of Bernie Sanders. I love to paint and its probably the best piece i have done. Ever since, people compliment it all the time and belive that Im some expert in painting when in reality im just a beginner. I was going to paint another portrait recently, but i was scared that it wouldnt live up to the painting i had done before. Afraid of failure, i havent painted anything since.

  • Gleamy

    I’m so, so, so happy I found this article because it describes me perfectly. I feel like a fraud in so many aspects of my life; academia, skills, relationships. Every time I do something right or impress somebody I think to myself, “It was just a fluke”, or ” I’m not really good at this, they’ll find me out soon enough.” I’m so relieved that somebody has actually put this into words. Thank you so much for providing such useful solutions – I’ll definitely try and put them to practice from now on.

  • Joe

    My boss tells me I’m good at my job and that there is no “high” to what i can acomplish. He just offered me a promotion to a position with way more responsibility in a field that I don’t really feel like i can handle. I’m going to work together with a very experienced guy who is going to soon find out that I’m a complete imposter. The good thing is that I already told him that i know nothing and that he is going to suffer for awhile schooling me in this new area of work.He was very understanding and told me that he had no worries about it and that he is confident that I can manage it (actually he was the one who tol me about imporster’s syndrome. I do have the very good skills in my old field and can use much of that knowledge in my new position, the rest I will have to learn from scratch. I’m pretty sure i will take on the job, but I can’t help feeling like an imposter if I do.

  • Switch234 X

    Yes! This echoes exactly how I feel. I have received good feedback in the past from clients, managers and colleagues. And I know I can learn things fast.

    But I have this constant urge to quit my job and study for a Masters, any Masters. Just because I feel I don’t know enough about my field, and I keep comparing myself to those who seem to be getting ahead with (from my myopic viewpoint) seemingly little knowledge or talent.

    I keep feeling that I need to study/read more. The reality is that I should study because I want to appreciate the nuances of my field, not because I feel insecure or like an impostor.

    • Nathan Deunk

      *AMEN!* but I’ve also had people with multiple Masters Degrees work for me, and some of them can’t even string a sentence together.

  • Susan

    I have a master’s degree in social work. I haven’t been a practicing psychotherapist in many years, because I was raising my daughter, which was the most rewarding “work” I have ever done–she is now 19 and in college, a wonderful young woman. In the past few years, I have also gotten certified as a parent coach. I have had coaching clients, and they have had positive results, but now that I have the time to grow a full parent coaching practice, which at this point I think I would prefer to psychotherapy, I am procrastinating. I read other “experts'” blogs and think, “Oh, s/he has something to say. S/he knows what to do. I don’t. I would just be making it up.” Or: “There are enough books. What do I know that is unique?” Or: “I don’t know enough about _____” Etc. Imposter, imposter. One part of me knows that I am both knowledgeable and inspiring. The other–well, the other is what stops me. I want to just move forward. The thing that touched me most in the article was “focus on helping.” I think that will help me. I just need to DO it. Blog, network, actually commit to it.

  • Sushi2103

    This is a newly realized behavior I seem to have (impostor syndrome). It was revealed to me by my friend and colleague as we were exiting a very important meeting with advisers to the company. The advisers are extremely accomplished people and have a great deal to add to the success of my company. So, why did I feel like a fraud when I left? Why did I think I was unworthy of being in the seat of power (President/CEO) of the company? My colleague said “Impostors” don’t know they are good at something and therefore believe they suck at it and are frauds.” He then said, “you assembled this team and built this company to what it is, with the attention of very influential people (advisers) willing to help” This was the first time someone has said this to me, although I knew it was team effort.

    I realized then that I have to look at the external world. I must learn to understand that whatever I am and whoever I am, I’ve gotten the company into the final negotiations of a very large contract! That’s no small thing!

    For all of you who have faced risk and uncertainty to achieve a better life, you are worthy and I salute you! (this statement is meant for me too 🙂

    Excellent post, sir!

  • Amy Lee Peine

    I just started my Master’s Program. I find it difficult to believe that they don’t accept everyone who applies into it. I feel like I have no idea how I got there. I don’t understand Sociological Theory, and because I’m so used to having a firm grasp on the material (in undergrad) I feel like a fraud as I start Graduate School. I have no idea what a thesis is, what a starred paper is, I don’t know why I felt that I’d be capable of managing my marriage, our daughter, my full-time job, and this ridiculous idea of getting my Master’s Degree. I want to teach and endless people have praised me in my public speaking, writing, presentations etc… but I just.. I feel like they clearly don’t know how terrified I am that I’ll encounter someone who knows more than I do and I’ll feel like it will negate absolutely everything..

  • Jemma Louise sherman

    I have recently finished my BA (Hons) Degree in early years and childhood studies. My lecturer always told me that I still don’t believe I am at the level I am at or believe that I am a professional. I never ever thought I’d get past college!! This makes me feel a fraud big time because no one in my family has any educational background. This makes me have a negative spin on everything especially my new job I am due to start on Monday as a personal advisor for looked after children. I instantly feel that everyone is bigger, better and more knowledgable than me!! Although I do have one positive that I maybe able to bring to the job.

    I never invite my children’s friends and parents over because I worry my house is not as good as theirs, are my children dressed as well as theirs.

    I feel like a child, I feel as if everyone looks down at me and that I’m immature! When I am really not immature at all.

    I recently baked a huge big cake for my daughters birthday and for the first time I took the complements and battled with my self but in the end I sang my own praises as I genuinely was happy with it.

    I’m worried this syndrome will effect my new job because is comes across that I am not confident and done know anything! I cover everything up with a smile and if I don’t know something I will either try and research it before I know it’s coming or I will go along with a conversation and look it up later.

    I constantly clean my house incase someone uninvited turn up and I don’t let me children get lots of toys out because I want to pack then away quick when or if any one comes round ( although No one ever just turns up)

    I constantly worry about what everyone and anyone else thinks even my best friend, I always feel judged and on my own too and I’m in a hole with this :(.

  • Ramps

    Oh my goodness. I do feel like I’ve got something huge and AMAZING to offer the world and if I ‘unleashed’ it people just wouldn’t handle it. I have had it that I am extraordinarily super special….. geez get over yourself girl!

    I feel like a total utter fraud in my business. I’m quite young for the stack of qualifications that I have in my trade as well as being a woman in a male dominated industry. I don’t have all the answers instantly, I don’t have all the templates instantly, I don’t know all the legislation or regulations AND I SHOULD! I am SO damn hard on myself.

    It even went to the point where I closed my business and took a job working for someone else LESS qualified (but older) than me so I could learn from him.

    What a joke. Although interesting and enlightening to discover this syndrome. I will learn a bit more about it.

  • Maya Cruz

    I’m intelligent or at least I know a lot about a lot. I can hold a conversation on all levels but I spent my childhood getting by with last minute preparation simply because I wasn’t allowed to sleep or if I did it as in fear. I was hounded by a monster and despite the fact that people really like me, I can’t think why they would. I’ve lost myself and think everyone else is better than me.

  • Christy Apple Johnson

    THIS. You have no idea how bad I needed this today. I just started grad school and I’m having a very rough week at my job. My character, intellect, and capability has been attacked at all fronts this week. Normally I’m able to overcome feelings of self-doubt and criticism but this week had me at the end of my rope. I actually wrote “It’s Imposter Syndrome: Take Action” on my forearm with a dark blue sharpie marker so that I can’t avoid this mentality. It’s there. It’s visible to me and anyone else that sees it. They may ask me about it. I can then elaborate and this improves my ability to externalize these feelings, as well as seek support in my peers. I’m going to have this here until it washes off in a week (a very difficult week to come). I was feeling quite stuck on what to do next while I have a list of responsibilities longer than I can see, and I think I’m ready to move forward. Thank you!

  • Dahlia Blaque

    I have been having a hard time restarting my life after divorce. I’m terrified people will see I failed my marriage and think I’m going to family anything else to

  • Jolly Roger

    I took every class my local school offers in drafting and feel like I didn’t learn anything more than how to draw a line, even though I got A’s in every class.

    I also like to work on vehicles but am only comfortable working on my own which I flip and feel like the buyer will find something seriously wrong within a few days and be mad at me. (Hasn’t happened yet aside from a bad vin which was actually the police departments fault that sold it to me) I just worked on someone’s car and something broke a few days later which I know was completely unrelated but they blame me and I feel guilty kinda.

  • Monique

    Numerous things but my two main ones at the top of mind.

    I can’t write something without someone checking it over and destroying it – I even have a friend on speed dial to check over my work before I send it off to people to look at/get printed. I am not a good writer and I fear once this is discovered people will realise I’m not actually good at my job and I am just faking everything in the infinite hope that it will work out.

    No.2 I cant enter competitions because, in comparison to others I feel constantly inferior. With all the best intentions in the world, I always chicken out – even though I know the opportunities it will create.

    *Sigh* i had been trying to work on both areas for years – they always lead to the same outcome :-/

    A very interesting read – lots to contemplate now

  • Kelly

    I recently got a new job where I have a team of 10 people who’s performance I’m responsible for. When I got the job they didn’t check references or my CV, they heard about me and head hunted me… After 15 years in the cocoon that is the military where I was never promoted I feel my new employers will find out why I was never promoted, when I make mistakes I am literally in panic mode in case they “find me out” however I do try and make steps to avoid that mistake again.. I had a nightmare last night where they rehired my predecessor as he was better than me, that’s how I found this link. I’m so glad I’m not alone!!

  • Nathan Deunk

    I’m in an MBA program right now, and they are making us do a “personal story,” which has to include long term goals. Unfortunately, I haven’t ever had long term goals, I’ve just always done what I tell my sailors: I look at what I’m doing, and then I decide whether or not it’s moving me closer or farther from where I want to be 5 years from now (in a non-specific goal way). If the answer is farther or not sure, I do what I can to quit doing that thing.

    I do what needs to be done, which to me is the bare minimum – just care about what is going on around you! It’s not that hard! I see so many people who simply don’t care, even when they are paid to care, but I refuse to believe that I’m a superhero for doing what I’m supposed to do, so that contributed a lot to the imposter syndrome.

  • Martin

    I’m actually still not really sure if what i suffer from is really an impostor syndrome or just real raw inability and lack of talent and revelation of my own Dunning-Kruger instead. The situation is a little bit complicated. I keep telling this to people i know to make it little better, so to say, reveal myself alone, that i’m being this fraud i really am, but it doesn’t make me feel stupid or that i don’t belong here any less..

    To give a little backround to the story; I haven’t done my Abitur/Final high school exam in Math or in physics, and i always considered myself to really suck in math even though i managed to have close to excellent grades till the end of the highschool, not really being unable to compute that or that stuff but to me it seems like i always forget it after couple months or right away and i’m still super unsure about what i even know in maths. Once in the first year of my bachelor in mechanical engineering i even squared 2 = 1?

    I study mechanical engineering in Germany, aerodynamics mostly at one of the best universities regarding the aerodynamics field. (Do you also wonder why would someone want to study one of the hardest fields of physics and mechanical engineering with such basic math knowledge gaps??)
    I just recently got accepted as a graduate student after being here for a year as an exchange student, after finishing my mech. egineering bachelor degree from my post-soviet country technical university,where i wasn’t able to study aerodynamics as a graduate, as the university just doesn’t teach this field. I do really like aerodynamics so i went for it and now i study here, wasn’t easy to get here either and study the stuff in a language you don’t really have even good conversational skills in. German is hard, but imagine studying aerodynamics in german☝️

    Until the day before yesterday i have passed all the exams i have taken here during the year. Until the day before yesterday when i was revealed as a fraud i really am.? I have brutally failed my last exam about numerical methods of aerodynamics, i couldn’t basically fail it any worse as i did. After the exam i felt that even if they made me a lobotomy with a spoon i wouldn’t be more non-intelligent. The professor kept asking me question after question and i was so disappointed with my level of knowledge that i didn’t even know what’s my name anymore, only thing i could do was just say some gibberish or that i really have no idea what the professor wants to hear from me. All i wanted to do was just to be done already and go home and cry. The professor wasn’t even trying to ask me hard questions in the end, it’s really true that i have either never seen such equations or never was even able to do some of those graphs or i was never even exposed to the stuff at my home university, unable to really see the connections between the equations and how it affects that parameter or how it will be plotted on that graph and what do you get if you slightly change that or that, what does this particular greek or roman symbol mean physically here while in the other equation it means five other things. The professor always probably had a presumption that we already know it and he never really bothered to explain the relationships during the lectures. Such a deep level of understanding i really never expected to be demanded. To be true to myself i have also underestimated the exam and haven’t prepared so hard for it, but that doesn’t make me any less uncapable of knowing even the “basic” stuff from the bachelor degree that obviously everyone knows here and i don’t. I really feel like a fraud and i really feel like now they really found out.

    Yet my friends keep telling me that it’s all good and this is actually only the first exam that i failed while being in Germany, and how they would never be even able to go for this all blabla and my parents keep always telling me how diligent and succesful son i am, of all the projects i have finished, bicycles and cars i built myself or helped building, of all the jobs i managed to land while studying simultaneously bla bla i still feel like the most noncompetent/non-intelligent person at my “new”university.. Just a week after they accepted me here.

  • Laura Delight

    My impostor syndrome is NOT professional or academic… it comes out in my personal life for the most part. I never feel quite secure hanging with people- whether I’ve known them for five seconds, five hours, five years, or my whole life. I am sop uncomfortable with the idea of people wanting to be around me that I can’t even fathom dating or having a larger friend group, instead counting on a very small handful of people to have my back. It’s isolating, and I’m so exhausted from trying to outrun people who are just trying to befriend me.

    • Jen

      that sounds familiar and like there are 2 people. i start off really friendly and outgoing then i don’t believe that i am that person. I have done it all my life and it is such a waste.
      All the best

  • Jen

    I have just returned to work after 4.5 years mat leave having and looking after my small children. I have been given a great opportunity at Deloitte and felt like i am not one of them- the big four people. Now I have worked myself into such a tizz and stuffed up because I second guessed myself and have been so worried about not knowing stuff and being one of them, that I am having probation meetings and might lose my job. my imposter complex has gotten in the way of actually doing the work

  • Sara

    I’ve avoided posting my art online because I feel like it’s no good at all, despite my friends and family telling me it is.
    Because I feel like “I’m still learning” I don’t wanna show anything until I’m “good at it”, despite already being able to make something that several people have liked so far.
    Think I’m gonna start posting it online anyway.

    Thanks for this post, it was really really helpful! 🙂

  • Norma Rickman

    I have had some success in my copywriting career in a specific industry. Although the basics of copywriting are the same for any industry, I’m so scared to venture out into new, far more lucrative industries for fear I can’t deliver. For fear my success in the first industry is a fluke. I feel like a one-trick pony and a fraud just waiting to be discovered.

  • Stuck in Life

    I spent more than almost 2 years looking for a job, just to get out of the grad school. I have been flexible, too. When it was an academia job, I did not say “oh, that’s not my ideal job”, I tried and have done my best. Same with industry jobs. The problem is, none of these worked out; I know I tried my best, but my best was basically pathetic. At least, that is the conclusion I eventually arrived. I am not sure as writing this, whether I really suffer from Impostor Syndrome, which requires some success, or I am simply a failure.

    All these thoughts was shaped after failing two job interviews, after getting so close. It may sound that two failed job interviews is not much to be depressed for, but this all links back to my prior attempts, and eventual failures (before even coming this close). I have graduated, and I am still in graduate school. Therefore, the urge to “save” myself from my current life keeps growing everyday. That’s why every failed job interview becomes a rare and missed chance for me. Considering the time and effort I put on each interview, and the following failures, it only makes me less faithful in a future chance to achieve what I wanted, simply because I believe I am not useful for anything more and more everyday.

    I can hear someone reading this thinking that there will surely be other chances/interviews for me. Objectively, yes I honestly believe this is the case. The problem is, any such chance is one for a new failure, and as a result of that I stopped applying for jobs. I know I may get calls, although scarce in number, however I am pretty convinced that I will fail them at some point and eventually get depressed just the way I am right now. Call it my surge protection technique by not using electricity.

    The last company I interviewed was a software giant that anybody on the planet would know. It was as I was recovering from a previous depression which followed a failed job interview, for which I prepared diligently for a good while. That giant company was interested in me, and I naturally thought, “well, I failed the previous one, since I was destined for this one!”. Things went unusually well, I was brought for an onsite interview, and the chances of this happening to people applying was well below 1%. Well, I am not even sure how they got to call me among thousands of applications, while I believe I have nothing special outstanding for this company. Well, for almost 50 days straight, I prepared, studied, day and night. Call it a mistake, but I focused my whole time on this as it was “my ticket out grad school” and more than a good one I could ask for. Well, I thought things went absurdly well to this point, and in fact I did not feel I messed up onsite, but it appears that I was not good enough. Yet another failure, and this time I convinced myself that I was not good. So, I decided to take whatever life throws at me, and stopped applying for jobs and torturing myself. Yet, I am tormented by the thought that I have no way out of my current situation without that torture.

    So I have been like this past 3 and a half months. I accepted, yet I cannot work, I cannot motivate myself beyond 2 minutes, and the worst of all I do not know what to ask for, if I was given a magic wand. I feel much more stable right now, though I have no idea what to do with my life. I know this cannot last forever, but the time gone is gone.

    Just saw the opportunity to rant here and took it. I can only thank you if you have read this thus far. I hope reading this helps someone in someway.

  • m¥§t3яiоμ$

    I find it very easy to gel with new people. I get them to gain an instant liking to me because I present myself very readily by talking about a whole lot of interesting things. However, though I can talk about about a lot of things, I do not know much about them. As a result of which, I find it difficult to continue with the conversation. Soon enough I make an excuse to leave the vicinity as I start feeling uncomfortable due to my lack of knowledge.

    Consequently, I feel the need to pursue a lot of different tracks of interest at once leading to an unsatisfaction in everything, as I realise how far behind I am.

    I find it difficult to commit myself to anything and levels of spiked activity along with periods of absolute boredom.

    In the back of my mind, I console myself my generating a veil of obscure imagination where I am a very important personality. Sometimes the same pattern of thought continuously narrates my immediate work and I feel as if I am transported in a movie set or a setting from stories I have read.

    I am always unable to assert myself in any situation, as a result of which I end of agreeing with everyone even if it is not good for me. Latet when I am alone, I take an assetive tone with an imaginary audience and relive the entire experience but from a point of view that makes me feel strong.

  • Miss e

    I got a new job 2 months ago as a ux designer. I started as a visual designer at this company a little less than 2 years ago. In my old role on my old team I felt over worked and underpaid. With the new role I got a promotion and raise. My workload is a lot lighter now and I’m not as confident in my designs. This leads me to hesitate when people ask my oppinon as the ux expert. I don’t feel like I’m an expert. I learned on the job. I did not get a masters in hci or a certificate from a ux boot camp school. I feel like a fake most days. Yesterday my manager asked if I could mentor one of the visual designers on my team. Mentor!? For ux!? So right now I really don’t feel qualified for that. I guess I need to learn how to fake it because I can’t run away from my life.

  • Tim Long

    I’ve spent so many years wondering if everything I say is a lie, just trying so hard to be genuine and find who I really was. I never knew about the impostor syndrome. I think I just realized I’m not a liar. Thank you so much for writing this. (I’m terrified someone is going to tell me I don’t have impostor syndrome, but I’m just taking that as verification. haha)

  • urs

    I have gotten a lot of industry and media recognition and accolades for my work over the last year, and it’s making me crazy. My anxiety, which I thought was mostly gone and dealt with by now, is back in full force. I feel frustrated and distracted by the attention, and often want to ignore all of it and go hide somewhere. I want to continue my work because I love it, but I am often tempted to quit telling people about it or documenting it because I am so uncomfortable with almost any and all feedback, good or bad. But of course my business requires that I advertise my skills, so it’s a catch 22. I typically just power through it and keep going; I know I’ll be fine when things calm down, but sometimes I miss the less complex and more emotionally stable life I had before anyone noticed my stuff. And of course I feel incredibly dumb that of ALL the things I could have anxiety over, especially after some of the actual real world difficulties I’ve experienced, that success and validation is the thing that’s tripping me up. How incredibly backwards and idiotic.

  • Liv

    It’s so good to be able to put a name to something I’ve felt for so long!
    I tell myself, and other people, all the time I only got through college because I knew how to BS my way through a paper, rather than acknowledging that I actually took time to do the research and I’m a halfway decent writer. I love to write but I’m always so afraid to show my writing to people because I’m afraid I’ll find out I actually can’t write at all. I love to speak at church and in front of groups but I always tell myself I did terribly and that everyone hated it and people are only saying “Good job!” because they’re being nice and I’m really just terrible at public speaking.
    It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who deals with feeling like an impostor. Thanks!

  • Justin King

    Thank you for sharing this! It’s so comforting knowing that I’m not the only one dealing with effects of the imposter syndrome. I have found myself battling with the same thoughts/feelings of self-doubt, undeserving and/or being unqualified for opportunities and poromotions as I progress in my career. I jump right into my career as a trauma nurse at the age of 20, with a strong work ethic and drive to be the best at what I was doing. Around 22 y/o, I started being recognized by senior leadership more and asked to sit on committees, ect. After that, I recieved opportunities to change course from bedside nursing to a healthcare leadership/business role. I was grateful for the consideration of course, but vividly remember feeling undeserving or as if I was an imposter and it would only be a matter of time before they found out that I was a fraud. I guess fraud wasn’t exactly how I generalized/labeled it at the time, I felt more like I didn’t posses the knowledge, skills or credentials needed to fulfill a position like this let alone be successful. I pushed myself to everyday to learn, identified my strengths of learning/developing a wide array of tasks/processes and education- quickly and efficiently. I realized that I will never be able to know every answer/solution, but knowing how to utilize my resources allowed me to always formulate a better educated answer/solution. I’m now 28 y/o and still battle with “imposter” feelings on a regular basis. It is still hard for me to feel “accomplished” or to receive a compliment, but each day is a step forward I guess. Reading this article and all the posts along with it has truly brought so much clarity to my self-doubting/imposter ways, and I’m looking forward continuing to accept/change those.

    Sorry for the rambling! It just all came out! Thank you

    • Klt

      I connect with what you’re saying, especially the part about “not havin enough knowledge & skill, pushing self to learn, & not knowing everything”. Then at the end you apologized; something else I do. I totally hear myself in your post – sooo, thank you! Helps me to see that others feel similarly, have helpful insight, and maybe I do too. Maybe I can learn to stop apologizing. I certainly don’t think you need to say sorry; I really appreciate your post!!

  • Robert

    Hy there, thanks a lot for this helpful Read!
    To the challenge: i constantly avoid the idea of being a Self-employed Designer/ Carpenter because i think, Nobody would Buy it.

    Again thanks a lot!
    Greetings from Germany,

  • Danielle

    There are a LOT of things I’ve avoided doing because of Impostor Syndrome, but a couple of the biggest things are getting better at makeup and trying my hand at photography. I’m terrified when I go into makeup stores because I just KNOW that the girls in there are looking at me and wondering why the heck I’m in there if I don’t know what I’m doing. Whenever I post pictures I’ve taken anywhere, I bite my nails and just wait for the hateful, negative comments to flow in (even though they never do).
    I wish I could express to you how much this post has helped me. I didn’t even realize that this was a concept, let alone that other people suffered from it, too. I really appreciate you shedding light on this subject for me and being so candid about your own struggles. It’s a true inspiration! 🙂

  • astha

    great initiative ! found the article informative as well as helpful.

  • Zeynep

    I am a PhD student struggling with my thesis. I usually think I do not belong here and I am not capable of making an academic research. All the good grades and success I’ve got in the first years of graduate school, was just good luck or something… I was in the right place at the right time so I could focus on studying and this brought success. But in fact I am not as knowledgeable as professors think I am. People used to think that i am a good student and will be a good academician. Now I can’t concentrate on my work. Months are passing and I believe nothing I’ve done is good enough to demonstrate. I hesitate to ask for help from other people when I get stuck, and when people ask me about my research I feel uncomfortable because they might understand that I am actually inadequate to work on this topic. One of the professors is so positive and encouraging all the time. I even hear from other people that she is sharing good opinions about me. But I believe she and other professors that are used to appreciate me must have already understood that they were wrong about me. All those feelings of inadequacy keep me away from working efficiently and I start to cool off and procrastinate. Other times, I try not to think anything and just focus on working but when it comes to sharing my research with other people I start finding problematic parts in it, thinking I should go over once again before sending to the professor or even write anything down. I start working to solve those “problems”, never ask for advice from anybody else. Spending so much time on details, got lost in it, finally cool off again and again procrastination starts. I don’t believe that I can finish the thesis and even if i do it, it will just be piece of crap. I usually think about dropping it. But when I remember the last conversation I had with my advisor telling me that I am so close to finishing, I change my mind.
    I read what I just wrote down and I can’t believe it. I didn’t even know that I had all these stuff in my mind. I am not sure if I have impostor syndrome, or how I can figure it out. But writing simply helped me to address the vicious circle I have caught in. Thank you very much for sharing this post and for encouraging me to share my thoughts.

  • Marlissa

    I have never, ever told anyone this ever. In my life. When I was nine years old, my cousins friend “molested” me. But I put quotations because I don’t know if that’s what it was. At the time, I said yes. Out loud. But I was nine, so it may have been peer pressure or curiosity. For the last eight years that’s been cringing in the back of my head, and I haven’t even told my best friend. I honestly don’t know what to classify it as, because I did say yes, but then my aunt signed me up for a sexual abuse therapist and thought my being gay was based on it and I think I’m gonna lose my mind. AGH!!! O now whenever I talk to someone about it, I feel like I’m lying or something… I dunno. It’s a mess. But I mean I suffered some pretty bad depression too and the only reason I could think of was this, so I Feel like I’m going mentally insane. Halp!!

    • Jessica Kristine

      What you said about feeling like you’re lying has happened to me too. For me, it’s because the part of me that experienced trauma as a child is still frozen in that moment in time, and still unable to cope with the pain. I think what I have to do is find some way to get the strength to come out of emotional shock to face and work through the trauma.
      Still not sure how to do that yet, though. It would take a lot of energy and right now I’m pretty wiped out from trying to figure out my childhood abuse. One thing that has been a huge help is writing it all out on paper. I don’t show anyone, but it helps me to accept what happened and see it clearly.
      I have impostor syndrome as well, but it’s different from the denial I am trying to work through from my younger self.
      I hope this might help you! Good luck, we can do this!

      • Jessica Kristine

        P.S. It was not. your. fault. But it might take some work for your younger self to understand that you aren’t to blame. It took a while for me to get there. Keep going, keep trying!

    • Jessica Kristine

      What you said about feeling like you’re lying has happened to me too. For me, it’s because the part of me that experienced trauma as a child is still frozen in that moment in time, and still unable to cope with the pain. I think what I have to do is find some way to get the strength to come out of emotional shock to face and work through the trauma.
      Still not sure how to do that yet, though. What has helped is writing the whole experience out on paper. I don’t show it to anyone, but it helps me to get a clearer perspective.
      I have impostor syndrome as well, but it’s different from the denial I am trying to work through from my younger self.
      I hope this might help you! Good luck, we can do this! (sorry if this posted twice 🙂 )
      P.S. It was not. your. fault. But it might take some work for your younger self to understand that. It took a while for me.

  • Laura

    A constant feeling of you could be better, that what whatever you’re doing isn’t enough, you can always do more. When someone says you’ve done well you brush it off because in your head you’re just doing what anyone would have done, you’ve just doing your job to the best of your ability. That’s nothing special, that’s just doing what you’ve got to do. Success overwhelms you, you’d prefer to be failing so you have somewhere to go from there and because it’s sometimes easier to give up on one project then be successful and carry on. At the same time you don’t want to disappoint people or feel like you’re letting other people down. There’s always someone better than you, waiting to take your position.

  • George Slater


  • Paige

    I’m a third year university student in politics. I’ve worked in my field already, traveling to Paris for research, but I can’t bring myself to go to class some days because I’m terrified all these intelligent people will find out I’ve been faking it this whole time. I challenge myself to at least stay on campus if I can’t go to class, one step at a time!

  • smakuout

    i like to take my time in everything i attend but i feel as if when i make a mistake everyone thinks im a liar and that im just boasting and trying to be cool. i feel judged all the time. i feel like sometimes i dont know what reality is and i get trapped in my mind thinking something terrible has happend to me.
    i am ashamed to say it but when i lose my reality i thinj i have just been raped almost. it is the feeling i recieve therefor u question my self

  • Ellie

    Reading this made me feel better so thank you for posting!
    One thing I haven’t done because I feel like I’m not enough is submit my applications for Legal training contracts. I don’t have as much work experience in the field as other candidates. I have a wealth of other experience and an understanding of working with lawyers as a client which I believe gives me a unique ability to empathise. But imposter syndrome forces you to focus on what you’re not, not what you are. I need to accept that I’ll most likely be rejected by a lot of places but unless I get over that and apply, I’ll never know. Reading this post helped.
    Thank you once again.

  • Kevin Crimmons

    Thhank you so much for this blog, it resonates with my inner nagging persona! I’m doing appraisals for my team at present, and have real issues with how i’m qualified to give them career advice!

  • Matt

    I’m a (recently graduated) illustrator and have a problem of constantly comparing myself to other people. If I’m not online I seem to eventually even out, but once I get on the internet within five minutes my self esteem will be ruined because I see something I could never possibly draw. I know I can’t do everything, but I am always finding someone younger who can draw more nuanced and better drawings than I can, despite them only doing it as a hobby or something. I was always the top of the class in whatever art I did in school, but because the schools I went to were not very challenging that meant absolutely nothing (to me).

    I still can usually get myself back up and make new art but it still never feels like enough. Like I always need to know more and be better. And that no matter how much I do I’ll never get there.


    • Adrian

      Hey Matt, I’m in the same boat as you..just graduated in Graphic Design and was usually top of class and everyone always praised my work, yet I felt I wasn’t that challenged in school. I tend to follow a lot of artists online to get inspiration for my work but often it leads to self doubt and thinking that I can never achieve what they have. This in turn makes me lazy and not even want to try sometimes and it really sucks. I’m trying to get to a better space where I have the confidence to put myself out there and stop comparing myself with others. One thing that has helped me was going back to some of my original work as a student a couple years ago and comparing it to my skill level now and I have seen huge improvements. Reflecting on that gives me hope that I will continue to get better each year as long as I try and stop comparing/competing with others!!

      Best of Luck in your career!
      We are our own worst enemy!

  • Devin

    This was a big wakeup call for me, I didn’t realize how badly I have this. I’ve always been so scared to do anything that ive never done before for the fear of being looked at as a poser, or being judged for expressing a wild idea, or being scrutinized for doing something wrong. I always felt like if I didn’t grow up doing something, then it’s not who I am.

    The realization hit me so hard half way though, I began crying. Thank you for going ahead and making this post. I feel my anxiety dessipating, because i now know the cause of the problem. Because of you I can work on the solution and do all those things I’ve always thought were cool but not ‘Devin’ enough. I’m going to change that now, and everything I do will be just the right amount of Devin, damnit. Not a poser.

  • Vfo

    I play a musical instrument and I have made many covers for songs with said instrument. I would love to share some of my creations, not only for peoples enjoyment but also so they could learn to play the songs too, because honestly there are not a lot of resources for the instrument I play and not everyone can learn to play something by ear. However I am self-taught in playing the instrument, I never had a teacher and haven’t watched many tutorials either. So I’m afraid that there’s some fatal flaw in my technique, I might have made my cover too complicated when the song could be played using some easier chords. Or that I used too easy chords and the cover isn’t really impressive at all. I’m also stressed about that if I did share my creations and someone actually liked them, what if I can’t keep making something of similar quality? Those people would certainly be disappointed in me.

    I have been told all my life that I am exceptionally talented musically, when I was very young(under 10) I played the piano and was offered to be taught by some expert that only teaches really talented kids(my parents thought it would be too stressful for me so they declined). But somehow I feel like they’ve all been mistaken. I feel like I’m miles away from the people who are “actually” talented. Sure, a lot of them have studied music theory for ages, but some of them have not. I’m not even talking about famous people here, but normal people who also play some instrument or sing, who I can tell are talented. Every song I have learned myself feels complicated to play, but it also feels like it’s actually very simple and easy for someone who can “actually” play well and I just don’t notice it, like I’ve fooled even myself into thinking that I’ve created something quite nice. And when someone else compliments my playing, I feel like they only think I’m good because they’re not literal experts on music, and if they heard someone even better play they would notice that I’m not good at all.

    I’m not even sure if this is impostor syndrome or just some weird perfectionism. I just heard the term and googled it and came across this blog, and felt like I could somehow relate. Sorry for the horribly long comment. I honestly feel ashamed because this whole comment feels like I’m bragging, and like I’m now trying to fool everyone who hasn’t even heard me play into thinking I’m good at it.

  • Amanda

    I’m starting college now. In high school I always had people telling me I’m great and I’m doing a great job in all my classes or clubs or whatever. I always felt like it wasn’t enough, though. It always seemed like there was someone that was doing more with seemingly much less stress and effort. I didn’t think I could make it through each year. Well, I did, but now I’m moving on to a whole new ballgame. I can’t focus, I don’t get all my work done, and I feel like I’ve put on airs about being good at school when actually I’ve just not been challenged yet. I feel like I don’t belong here, like I’m in over my head, and when I fail my classes my family will see what I’ve been saying about not being that great. I dread the “what happened?” Conversations. And I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough for my schooling, even though that’s all I do. I don’t have much of a social life, and I’m always working on an endless pile of tasks, but since I never feel fully finished, I always feel like I’ve done nothing.

  • Madhusudhan R

    I even feeling now that I’m wrong in commenting! Well I have lot of such moments where I feel very much that I don’t fit good and I’m cheating myself and others. When asked to answer a question in class I feel I might not be the right person to answer the question. When some one ask me the address I feel I will mess up even though I’m right. Due to this I engage less in social conversations. Always a feel that I’m an outsider. Thank you making me clear what’s wrong going on.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t let myself become completely comfortable with my boyfriend after a whole year. I feel like an imposter in my own body. I’m funny, pretty and smart but I hold my tongue. I recently read in another article that if you don’t say what’s on your mind (respectively) within five seconds of the thought entering your brain, then the idea is lost. Socially I stammer. I am confident. But I’m scared of being harshly judged / rejected. It makes me feel like I have no personality.

    • Candy

      This. Probably the most important thing I need to do is drop the extreme speech filter.

  • Darwin Nero


    We had been married for a while and things were OK, I was in love with her, she was crazy about me, but later on everything changed and by complicated exterior circumstances which did not have to do with us, we decided to pause for a while, but still remain friends. But in the end, she started getting cold: she treated me as if she did not know me, she acted too immature to the point where she did not even say hi to me when we bumped into each other (we had the same circle of friends). Of course, it hurt so badly, I wanted to kill her. Then out of nowhere she disappeared. I wrote her for her birthday and she replied little. Some of my “friends” saw she had left and started going cold with me too, as if it was my fault that she had left. The few that were still my close friends and still hers, told me she had moved on, that it was best not to make contact with her. Then out of the blue some months later she reappeared, but still acting like a douche. I was suffering emotionally of course, because we had never even had a divorce, it was just supposed to be a pause, so I did not know how to react, what to feel, what to do… anyway, she kept coming over and over on the weekends, and I had to deal with my “friends” who the moment they saw her, immediately left me and went over to her. Eventually, I decided to give up trying to restore anything with her as she was showing no signs of wanting me back, and started healing. Around four months after we had ended our relationship, I find out she is with another guy! That’s when I knew I had not gotten over her, because I cried, I was mad, it was just a feeling of “oh, poor me”. I could not stand losing her to some other guy, I decided to go diabolical (i.e. via spell). I got involved with a lot of fraudulent so-called spell casters on the internet who ripped me off my money without getting a result as to what I wanted. I almost lost my sanity. Just as I almost was giving up, one faithful morning, I received a mail from one of the spell castes I had applied for spell with but never got a reply all along. He made me to understand that he could not attend to all his costumers then because it was that time of the year for his annual fellowship with his ancestors for the renewal of his spiritual and supernatural gift. I told him not to worry about the spell anymore, that I was done with all of them fake spell casters. He assured me of his 100% genuine work of this gift which he possessed. I decided to give it a try. After spending about 2500 USD (which was due to my inability to provide a whole lot of materials which he needed for the spell process), I am happy to announce to the world that I have gotten back my wife and we are expecting our first baby. All thanks to Dr. Kene Dilli. All you out there tired of all these fraudsters that call themselves spell casters (seeking to rip were they have not sown) and you require legitimate spell for whatsoever purpose, contact Dr. Kene Dilli on his email address; kenedillitemples AT yahoo DOT com.RE-WRITE THE EMAIL ADDRESS IN IT’S STANDARD FORM.GD

  • Colita Dainton

    I have recently started my own business but haven’t published my website, I dont feel its good enough and who am i to be in the running for actual clients that will pay me to work with them? This i guess is my imposter syndrome….loved this post and found it helpful to read, It is ok to be me.

  • Olivia Johnson

    First I would like to say “THANK YOU”. I’m in a season of my life of searching!! Ive never heard of imposter syndrome and can’t remember how I can came across it. All I know is everything you’ve said has helped me understand myself better.
    My purpose in life is helping people and I’m a dreamer. I want to reach the NATIONS through blogs, books, and speaking. I believe there’s no point in dreaming if you don’t dream BIG. However, I let my feelings of not being enough and being misunderstood stop me from actually acting on my dreams.

    I believe Fear is what stops us from doing anything we want or need to do. The fear of failure, being a fraud, being found out to top the list. But after reading your article, I’m leaping. What’s there to lose, right? If I don’t help anybody, my leap will help me!!!!! Besides, I HAVE A PERSON RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DREAM MAKER!!!! And through HIM, I can do it ALL!!!! FAITH is the key!!! Thanks soooo much!!!!

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    31. Ringing ear 32. ALS cure spell
    THINKS FOR taking time to read MY POST GOD BLESS….

  • Surabhi

    I have a knack for passing exams and I write columns on Facebook even though its me passing the exam with very little studying or me writing the post, everytime I pass the exam and I see people studying for hours and still not doing as well, or if I get some appreciation for my post, I’m unable to accept it, I feel like I don’t deserve it, your article will help me remember that it’s just a thought, thank you 🙂

  • unemployedAF

    i’m afraid that the instant i get a job i’ll be exposed as a moron who doesn’t know how to do the job, whether it’s medical grade pharmaceuticals or flipping burgers….

  • Fran

    I’m just a student. I recovered from a really bad year, everyone’s saying I’m doing well in college and at home but I feel like a fake, that I’ve got so good at pretending I’m fine and managing my emotions. I don’t even feel like I can say I’ve done well over getting over my ptsd because I just think it’s all fake too.

  • shopgirl

    I’m a counselor seeking licensure but I won’t mail the paperwork to complete the process because I tell myself I’m a fraud. I tell myself I don’t recall anything from grad school and I don’t know how I graduated or was even given a job when I know nothing about counseling. I’ve wanted to be a counselor for as long as I remember but now that I am I don’t know what to say to clients, I tell myself I’m not helping them, etc. and I need to find another career. I thought I was just plagued with self doubt until I found the term imposter syndrome. Any time I feel as though I’ve failed I become self destructive. I tell myself that I wanted a masters degree because I wanted to prove myself to my mother and to others that I’m more than a pretty face but I don’t deserve the degree and I’m too full of self doubt to help anyone else. Since I’ve graduated and become employed it’s become so much worse. It’s to the point that I may quit my job because I’m convinced my clients are worse off with me and need a therapist who can actually help them. I tell my significant other that I’m a shit show but he says it’s inside because no one else sees it and it looks as though I’m brilliant and have it all together. That just makes me feel guilty as though I’m a liar.
    This is evidence that even counselors and therapists can be a hot mess inside.

  • VMS

    I just returned from a week-long leadership program and came across this blog and the idea of “imposter syndrome.” At the age of 50, I can’t believe it took until now to realize this is what I’ve been plagued with my entire career. I’ve been through multiple 360-degree assessments and continuously rate myself lower (much lower) than my peers, subordinates, and executives alike. It’s always puzzled me how I could continue advancing well beyond others with much more impressive credentials than mine. I have a Bachelor’s degree from a state university and have convinced myself that the only way I can avoid “being found out” is by “doing” more than those around me. This is all well and good when you’re starting out, except in retrospect, I see now that it’s been at my own expense. I’ve missed out on a lot of life and sacrificed a number of life’s gifts (like marriage and children) out of needing to “prove” myself over and over. It seems the only one that’s not convinced I’m good enough, smart enough, or worthy is me. THANK YOU for this life-changing message and some practical steps to begin taking. I wish I read this 25 years ago but better late than never.

  • Eugen

    I didn’t know this was a real thing until recently, but it’s good to know I didn’t invent a creative new psychosis, only to keep it to myself. I just started a new job and I don’t know how I got it. I was at the interview, too… did they misunderstand everything I said? They clearly didn’t ask the right questions… or they were desperate for any old warm body… or they’re just looking for a good scapegoat for something awful that happened… because there is no way I belong here, making the money that I’m making now. When will the bubble burst? And will they frog march me out, fingers all a-point, when they discover their sacred club has been infiltrated by an outsider and a wannabe who has absolutely nothing of value to add? This was a very helpful read, and I feel like getting a handle on all of this isn’t an impossibility… but until then I’ll patiently wait to be asked to leave. I waited 10 years for the same thing at my last job and it never happened, and those idiots gave me multiple promotions, too. I guess I’m over-due for my karmic come-uppance.

  • Rodney Saenz

    I came into my current job as a graphic-designer-by-training, doing random graphics work and basic web dev for my employer; then, as of last year, I was suddenly part of an elite team of coders that moves at breakneck speed, working ridiculous hours; all at the same time that I’m scrambling to learn and practice programming as much as possible on a daily basis. Without the assistance of said team, I would’ve stopped treading water and drowned, long ago.

    Impostor syndrome has served as a pair of concrete boots this whole time, so thank you for this life-jacket. I’ll hold it close from here on out.

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