Not an Imposter, Pero Ingeniosa Si
EDUC 575 | By: Jazmin Santillan Castillo
As defined by Harvard Business Review, “Imposter syndrome [is] a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” This psychological mindset targets the question ¿Quienes somos? (Who are we?), which we ask ourselves to understand our purpose in life. Feeling like an imposer in the real-world implies feeling incapable, insufficient, non-deserving, and in essence a fraud. In today’s post, we will focus on the types of imposter syndrome lingering in the minds of many and how they tend to consume one’s true identity.
¿Como Explico lo que Siento?
In order to understand the psychological phenomenon of imposter syndrome, it is important to see how it is applicable in one’s life. Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., composed the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) allowing individuals to understand how often they suffer from imposter syndrome in association with her work and research of imposter phenomenon. Take a moment to answer the questions accordingly to better understand where you fall on the scale.
Growing up in a Mexican household as the oldest, and only girl implied many responsibilities like translating government documents at 8-years-old. There I was every other day sitting on the kitchen table attempting to translate documents with words as long as the alphabet, while tears flowed down my face. “Entonces a que vas a la escuela,” (then why do you go to school) would say my father, while I’d defend myself with “Es que no me ensenan esto en la escuela” (it’s because they don’t teach me this at school). My mind became this automated machine that constantly reminded me that learning was not an option, but an obligation and not doing so was unacceptable. Such example is one of many that demonstrate the inculcation of imposter syndrome. You see, this phenomenon is something that doesn’t have a specific starting point, but it is influenced by many factors including race, gender, culture and even finances.
This syndrome is so common that “70% of the population [experience] imposter syndrome,” so if you’ve ever felt doubt, unworthy, or unconfident, you’re not alone. Now that we understand what imposter syndrome may feel like, and were not alone, are the feeling always the same for everyone? Well, actually no. According to Valerie Young, Ed.D. in The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women there are 5 patterns of imposter syndrome:
- The “perfectionist” tends to have very high expectations of oneself and very hard on their performance. If they do not meet their expectations or make a mistake, they question their capabilities.
- The “superwoman/man” convince themselves they are imposters and do everything they can to prove otherwise. This causes them to push themselves harder in order to measure up to those around them.
- The “natural genius” expects themselves to know EVERYTHING. Knowing everything provides validation and knowing it on the first try is a MUST. Failing to comply t their expectations, like the perfectionist, sounds their alarm.
- “Soloist” are those who refuse to ask for help, to prove they’re not phonies. They are those who wish to do everything independently to prove their worth.
- “Experts” are the ones who NEED to know every single detail to feel enough. They tend to silence themselves in order to be exposed as frauds, constantly doubting what they do know.
Identity Consumed by an Imposter
According to Emily Hu “[women on color are] more likely to experience imposter syndrome if [they] don’t see many examples of people who look like [them] or share [their] background.” This is the case given the constant systematic oppression of society stating “you’ll never be good enough,” which develops doubt and a constant battle of proving one’s capability. As females, we are often times very prone to be seen as too emotional, too attached, or too ambitious, traits that are not present in a man and very much lead to their successes. In a study done by the University of Texas at Austin, “108 Latinx Americans perceived ‘discrimination and imposter feelings,’ having an impact on their mental health.” These constant battles stump women of color and make us doubt what we really have to offer. Our internal identity embracing our roots, language, skin color and history are silenced by the mask of what we THINK society NEEDS to see in order to be accepted. So how can we combat this imposter syndrome?
According to Sheryl Sandberg, Co-Founder of Lean In and COO of Facebook, “We need more women at every table where decisions are made,” so imposter syndrome has to go. We need to realize that we must:
- Break the silence and speak up about our feelings.
- Give ourselves a reward when we accomplish goals.
- Take control of the rule book by setting PERSONAL scripts to follow, not societal standards.
- Reflect on what WE HAVE done. Little things go a long way, so we must understand that the little victories are just as important.
- Imagine ourselves in the positions of OUR success. We spend so much time belittling ourselves for what we NEED to do, but not appreciating what we ARE doing.
More than ever, our thoughts, voice, opinions and values must not be taken for granted and doubting our ability to BE makes it no better. Repeat this phrase “I am NOT an imposter, pero si SOY ingeniosa,” because you are enough and capable.
Corkindale, Gill. “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.” Harvard Business Review, 7 May 2008, hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome
Clance, Pauline Rose. “Imposter Phenomenon (IP).” Dr. Pauline Rose Clance — IMPOSTOR PHENOMENON, www.paulineroseclance.com/impostor_phenomenon.html.
Croteau, Jeanne. “Imposter Syndrome — Why It’s Harder Today Than Ever.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 4 Apr. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/jeannecroteau/2019/04/04/imposter-syndrome-why-its-harder-today-than-ever/?sh=21753b579ac5.
Abrams, Abigail. “Yes, Impostor Syndrome Is Real: Here’s How to Deal With It.” Time, Time, 20 June 2018, time.com/5312483/how-to-deal-with-impostor-syndrome/.
Nance-Nash, Sheryl. “Why Imposter Syndrome Hits Women and Women of Colour Harder.” BBC Worklife, BBC, 27 July 2020, www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200724-why-imposter-syndrome-hits-women-and-women-of-colour-harder.
Gomez, Shirley. “Latinas Belong More Than Ever: Say Good-Bye to Imposter Syndrome.” BeLatina, 21 Aug. 2020, belatina.com/latinos-impostor-syndrome/.
Sandberg, Sheryl. “Lean In: Meet the Team.” Lean In, leanin.org/team.