Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome – or as I would like to call it, the voice in the back of your head that just won’t shut up. You know the voice, the one where it tells you how unqualified you are, how you are not smart or even that one day you will be exposed as a fraud. This might sound familiar to a lot of women across the board, which speaks volume to just how apparent it is in our society.

I am not going to give you tips and tricks on how to deal with imposter syndrome. The internet does an excellent job of providing you with a bullet point list of all the things you can do to help mitigate that small voice in the back of your head, but none of these articles actually discuss why imposter syndrome exists in the first place, and why it is so commonly felt across society.

No matter how many tips I read on how to deal with imposter syndrome, they never worked. So maybe there is no remedy? Maybe I am just meant to feel like a fraud for the rest of my life. Then I came across this tweet and something clicked in me.

What if we feel like frauds because we have never seen anyone like us doing what we are doing? But then that got me thinking, why don’t we see more people like ourselves in all sorts of positions in society? At the end of the day, the field I entered was never designed for someone like me if anything it was created to exclude almost everyone. So maybe, I wasn’t alone in thinking that imposter syndrome might be about something bigger than myself.

Every article I have come across blames imposter syndrome on the individual. Somehow, it is up to you and you alone to solve this very large problem that has been built into the systems and structures we live in.

Here’s the thing, you are not alone in feeling like an imposter, but it’s also not your fault. The fault should probably lay with the patriarchal structures and institutions we are forced to conform with.
We are scared of being exposed as frauds because the systems we operate in were never created with us in mind. They never wanted us to succeed in the first place. When we step into them, we are going to feel like frauds because it was not designed for us to succeed in any way. The game you play when you engage with the structures and institutions that run our lives has been purposely designed not to include you in it.

As someone who has recently entered a field where it has been characteristically dominated by men, I can immediately tell you that I work every day feeling like an imposter. But it never occurred to me until I read this Tweet that the reason, I am feeling this way isn’t just in my head – its because things were never designed for me or with me in mind, and not just for me personally but for women and non-binary people in general. If you are not a straight white male, then chances are most fields were not created or structured in a way that included you.

All this to say, it is normal to feel and deal with imposter syndrome and there are a lot of resources out there that can help you deal with it internally. But this phenomenon cannot continue to go on ignored because it revolves around a lot more work than journaling or positive thinking. We need to overhaul and change the structures of the institutions we live and work in.

When we start designing a system or structure that everyone can work in, perhaps we can start realizing that imposter syndrome is a much bigger problem than what people feel on an individual level – it is a symptom of a much bigger problem. That problem is largely the patriarchal nature and tendencies that influence every institution that we live in.

Comment below if you have ever felt imposter syndrome — because at the end of the day you are not alone and it is not your fault.

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