Imposter Syndrome and How It’s Suffocating Too Many of Us

Woman Sitting in Front of MacBook

It wreaked havoc on my life before I realized that it had even taken root in my mind. It tore my life apart, and I didn’t even see it.

So allow me to tell you about my story of imposter syndrome— so that you may prevent it from demolishing yours.

It really all crashed into burning shambles a couple months ago when I had gotten back home and received an big essay grade from my AP Language class. I opened the email: the PDF froze, then loaded, and I hurriedly scrolled down to the bottom as blue marks flew by.

An 80. 

In a completely unexplainable and absolute meltdown, I ran upstairs and. Broke. Down. Why? I honestly could not tell you. Not even now. I cried for a solid half hour over how worthless I was. I had completely overwhelmed myself with my constant push for perfect grades.

You’ve probably never heard of imposter syndrome before but sadly, might relate to how I spiraled that day. Whether coined by a term or not, imposter syndrome remains something almost all people experience and learning how to properly respond and cope with it has the potential to transform you into a healthier person.

For many people, imposter syndrome manifests itself in their work and school life, and it does so in completely paralyzing ways that freeze them into a constant state of feeling like someone will expose them for not being deserving of their job (Abrams).

Those feelings of inadequacy, guilt, doubt, and pressure don’t just simply materialize in our adulthood; it begins early in childhood. 

Coming from Chinese immigrant parents myself, the end line was set early for me: perfect grades, acceptance into a prestigious university, and eventually, a well-paying job. There was no veering off from the path they had set for me, and I grew up my entire life hearing these goals thrown at me. 

That type of immense pressure builds and evolves until it becomes an internalized state of constantly feeling as though you can’t fail less someone discover your worthlessness. The “fraud” label then manifests because you’ve thrown yourself into this toxic cycle of pushing yourself because you feel inadequate. It’s certainly what I did.

And how did I deal with this? I shoved it down. I chose not to deal with those crippling feelings, which only piled up and poured into the end result. When I had finally attained that certain grade I wanted, I would convince myself that I should have achieved that goal a long time ago and that I got lucky this time. 

What I realized was that I went through happens to entirely too many people and that this mindset may be commonplace to you, but our culture either normalizes it or pushes people to hide it. 

It shouldn’t. This mentality is not and never will be healthy.

Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein themselves both had imposter syndrome, but not many people knew (Longden). Angelou was a ten time award winner and the recipient of the Medal of Freedom and Einstein a pillar for modern science today (Kaku), but imposter syndrome forced them to dismiss all external signs of achievement until they reverted back to thinking that they weren’t entitled to what they worked for. (Warrell)

But you are worth everything that you have worked for. These thoughts are not easy to remember, and I’ll be the first one to admit that I still struggle with imposter syndrome. 

However, it starts with recognizing how toxic you’re being to yourself. 

It starts with recognizing how you’re demeaning yourself as a person based off of external achievements when at the very basis you, like all other people, already have worth as a human being.

I personally didn’t even draw that line until a couple months ago in a Mexican restaurant eating chips and queso when my friend identified my imposter syndrome because I had finally opened up to her about these feelings.

Have patience. You don’t get the luxury to tack a two months later stamp onto your life like a movie and just enjoy the end result of being free from imposter syndrome. You’re forced to learn from your experience, but only in this way can you genuinely grow as person intellectually and emotionally. 

Never forget that you are worth everything you have worked for, because that’s exactly what imposter syndrome targets. 

Hold onto that, and hold onto the fact that you deserve what you have. It starts here, but once you can truly love yourself, you begin loving others a lot more easily and help create more of a world that offers each other support in becoming the best that we can be.

Imposter syndrome, defined as the psychological phenomenon “of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud” was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes (Dalla-Camina).
Women Stressed Biting on Nails

Works Cited

Abrams, Abigail. “Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real: Here’s How to Deal With It.” Time, Time USA, LLC, 20 June 2018,

Dalla-Camina, Megan. “The Reality of Imposter Syndrome.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 3 Sept. 2018,

Kaku, Michio. “Albert Einstein.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 10 Mar. 2020,

Longden, Roger. “Overcoming Impostor Syndrome.” There Be Giants, Volition Performance Ltd, 18 Nov. 2019,

Warrell, Margie. “Afraid Of Being ‘Found Out?’ How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 Oct. 2015,

Further Research:

Corkindale, Gill. “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.” Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business School Publishing, 2 Dec. 2019,

Weir, Kirsten. “Feel Like a Fraud?” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2013,

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