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Tony Cletus
Tony Cletus

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Fvck Imposter Syndrome!

While this article may not rank on search or penalize because of the F word used in the title, I'd like to say I am super happy to have it that way. But I tried so hard not to repeat it in the body.

To be sure if this article is for you, ask yourself this following questions:

  • Do I find myself hiding behind other people all the time?
  • Do I think less of my own accomplishment even when other people think it's great?
  • Do I feel my opinions don't matter in a meeting?
  • Do I feel my work must be 100% perfect, 100% of the time otherwise I don't measure up?
  • Do I get easily intimidated by other people's wins?
  • Do I feel like I haven’t truly earned my title (despite numerous degrees and achievements)?
  • Do I find myself working excessively harder than everyone at the office?
  • Do I let my hobbies and passions fall by the wayside, sacrificed to work?
  • Do I feel ashamed if I take a long time to master something?
  • Do I dislike the idea of having a mentor because I can handle things on my own?
  • Have I been used to having straight A’s” or “gold stars” in everything I do?
  • Do I firmly believe I don't need anyone's help to accomplish anything in life?
  • Do I shy away from applying to job postings unless I meet every single educational requirement?
  • Do I shudder when someone says I'm an expert?
  • Do I feel I never earned the prize, it was just luck?
  • I'm a piss of shit, an imposter, I don't deserve such attention, do I feel this way?

OK! enough, if you're suffering from one of the aforementioned symptoms, continue reading, if not, kindly share this article with the hashtag #fuckimpostersyndrome.

Imposter syndrome is a thief, a big cunning one at that, it is estimated that more than 70% of people experience imposter syndrome. I've had my own share too. And missed out on so many opportunities early on in my career because I felt I didn't merit what I had accomplished or even worthy of any recognition I ever received from my teammates each time I did something others adores.

Sometimes, I had great ideas or suggestions about a particular topic or solution in a meeting and still feel like I don't have the credibility to make a point. And I keep pulling back my voice just so I wouldn't be tagged as a fraudster.

As a developer, I've endlessly worked on some projects that I couldn't help myself to finish, in fact, I ended up not sharing on Twitter or GitHub because I felt they weren't perfect enough.

When I started a new role as a marketing manager with a team to manage, I felt I didn't deserve the position despite being told I was more experienced than the rest team members in the department. And many more...

This is how dangerous imposter syndrome can be, and I can't imagine what you have been missing because of this internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud."

I've already spilled out one relieving tip by informing you about the number of people experiencing Imposterism, which indicates - You're not alone. And as Seth Godin would put it; "Yes, you're an impostor. So am I and so is everyone else. Superman still lives on Krypton and the rest of us are just doing our best."

Some of these symptoms are good to have but not before knowing how to handle them in situations where they are needed to be harnessed.

Imposter syndrome robs people of their confidence and replaces it with fear, silent voices, makes people feel like a fraud, and don't deserve what they have. Okay! at this point of writing, I need to take a deep breath, to control this rage over this syndrome because I need to be cool to effectively pass across my message. 😌 Alright. Let's move on...

What is imposter syndrome?

Its [Wikipedia page ( says "Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud" and went further to explain that "Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved."

Simply put, Imposter syndrome causes people to doubt their achievements and fear that others will expose them as fraudulent. The condition can affect anyone, regardless of their job, background, environment, position, class, race, gender, and social status. In fact, it is quite common among high achievers who are unable to internalized and accept their success.

The term was first described by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s.

How does it rob you?

People with imposter syndrome have low self-confidence and a fear of failure. They experience a constant internal struggle between achieving success and avoiding being “found out." This struggle prevents many with the condition from reaching their potential.

Don't be controlled by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart. - Brad Turnbull

While they are different types of imposter syndrome which were identified by Dr. Valerie Young in 1982, it is possible that a person can experience more than one type of this phenomenon.

It comes in different scenarios, the imposter syndrome you experience when starting a new and more challenging position is quite different from that which you experience when you're an expert in your field.

I will expose the tactics of each type and then we will harness it to our own advantage. Oh yes, imposter syndrome is also a sign of greatness. Great achievers such as Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou suffer from this corrosive form of low self-esteem. Research also shows that, women are more prone to impostor syndrome than men. However, that margin isn't a case anymore as every human especially people who think outside the box (Great thinkers) are often prone to impostorism.

Before I proceed, I would like to share this great tip by Angie Jones 💎, when asked about how she handled Imposter syndrome: 👇

Types of Imposter syndrome

1. The Perfectionist

This group of people always want everything to be perfect (100%), and if they don't, they feel depressed about it. Yes, it is good to set ambitious goals for yourself but make sure they are achievable goals. If you work in a company where OKRs is well-practiced, you will understand the importance of setting achievable goals. The goals you set mustn't be 100% attainable, at least 70% is OK. And you have to breakdown your ambitious goals into chunks of daily tasks so you can have a fulfilled day.

"Life is not a sprint, it is a marathon."

Possible solutions:

  1. Always celebrate every little win no matter how small it can be.
  2. Break your goals into chunks of tasks that you can achieve per day.
  3. It is good to aim higher but make sure they are attainable.
  4. Accept that you can never be 100% flawless. You're human and mistakes are inevitable and they are a natural part of the process.
  5. Learn to try.

2. The Expert

While achieving an expert level in a particular field or subject is attainable, these impostors leave in self-doubt over their degrees or competence to respect their breakthroughs. They are scared of coming out plain to avoid being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable. Hence, they continue to procrastinate and never ready.

"If we wait until we're ready, we will never be ready."

Possible solutions:

  1. Learn to practice just in terms of learning. Only learn what you need at the present moment and understand that you can never know everything.
  2. Understand that it is not a shame to ask for help and probably the best way to build rapport with others.
  3. Talk kindly to yourself.

3. The Superwoman/man:

I'm tempted to call this set of impostors The Workaholics.
They are never convinced by their own efforts and so they push themselves harder and harder to measure up meanwhile they are only doing this to cover up their insecurities. This does not only affect their mental health but also affects their relationship with others.

Possible Solutions:

  1. Stop trying too hard to prove yourself to others, rather be your own competition.
  2. Set daily tasks and don't overdo yourself. Take a break, you deserve it.
  3. Go home when work is over, tomorrow is another day to continue.
  4. Talk to a professional and ask for support when you're stuck.
  5. Find time to enjoy your hobbies and do things outside of work.
  6. Understand that no one is a superhero or flawless.
  7. Consistency is a habit, not a one-day thing.
  8. Make sure you love what you do.

4. The Soloist:

Soloists feel asking for help will reveal their phonies and a sign of weakness. They will so condemn themselves if they do. Their thought is... they are supposed to do everything all by themselves without asking for help. This doesn't only slow down their productivity but also limits their knowledge and association with others. It's good to be independent but not to the point of feeling ashamed asking for help if you need it.

"The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life."
~ Confucius

Possible Solutions:

  1. Find someone you admire in your area of specialty and politely ask for mentorship.
  2. Join Q/A forums and participate on both sides.
  3. Understand that you can't know everything. People asking each other for help is part of human relationships.
  4. Ask more than you say and learn to be a good listener.
  5. Try to have a mentor (Someone you admire).

5. The Natural Genius

Almost similar to the perfectionist, this set of imposters never take failure likely. They believe they should get everything on the first try. Rather than judging competencies based on their efforts, they consider the ease and speed instead. Often times, they feel uncomfortable to try things they feel they ain't great at. They just think everything should be easy.

Possible Solutions:

  1. Accept it. You will fail at some point in your career or when trying to accomplish a task. Understand that the main reason for failure is to learn something success can't teach you. If you learn from failure it's not a failure, it's wisdom.
  2. Try something that challenges you. It's OK to go out of your comfort zone.
  3. Rather than beating yourself up when you don’t reach your impossibly high standards, identify specific, changeable behaviors that you can improve over time.
  4. Trust the process. The process is the most important part of the journey. Appreciate it while you have it.

Which of these symptoms have you experienced? from today you've been vindicated. No more fears, no more hiding, no more self-doubt.

I love this video from Danny Thompson who made it through his imposter syndrome from frying chicken in a gas station to being a software engineer and now affecting the lives of many other developers:

Final words

You were born to shine, and as you let your light shine, so you unconsciously encourage other people to do the same. And as you liberate yourself from your fears so your presence automatically liberates others.

Stop being an imposter. Stop doubting yourself. Stop shrinking so others won't feel insecure around you, we're all meant to shine and you deserve all the good things that come your way.

So #fuckimpostersyndrome today! ✌

Top comments (4)

aaronmccollum profile image
Aaron McCollum

I really like Angie's idea of making a list. I should do that - record the times where I get something to run correctly, figure out a bug, make a new project, or learn a new thing.

tonycletus profile image
Tony Cletus

Yup! Angie's approach has really helped me a lot. I've been doing that for quite some time now.

awave profile image
Artem Golovin

I just needed to hear this, thanks for sharing

tonycletus profile image
Tony Cletus

Thank you :)