It’s pretty safe to say that at one point or another in our lives, we have felt like we were in over our heads at school or work, despite having relevant experience or knowledge. This is a very common occurrence, and it actually has a name. Imposter Syndrome, Fraud Syndrome or the Impostor Experience is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.  Most often, this syndrome is found in individuals in college, grad school or who are starting a new job or a new employment position within an existent job.
Dr. Pauline Rose Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes were the first to study the imposter syndrome in 1978. They originally believed that women were uniquely affected by the thoughts and feelings that come along with imposter syndrome, but since then research has shown that it can affect anyone, regardless of gender. 
Typical symptoms that are experienced with Imposter Syndrome are anxiety, self-doubt, fear of failure, perfectionism  and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that overrides feelings of success or external proof of competence. While it is not an official DSM diagnosis, it has been linked to anxiety and depression, which is easy to understand if you are constantly having thoughts that you are not good enough to be where you are in life, or that everyone thinks you’re faking it.
Knowing the history of Imposter Syndrome is one thing, but knowing ways to combat the thoughts and feelings is an important way to protect yourself from succumbing to the negative side effects. Remind yourself that from time to time, almost everyone has the same thoughts and feelings as you. Reminding yourself of this can be key in not only feeling less alone, but vocalizing your feelings can also help others around you feel less alone too. Another way to combat Imposter Syndrome is to keep a list of all of your accomplishments- big and small.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, or in over your head, take a moment to read through all of the highlights of your career or academic successes.
Having a mentor is another great way to eliminate the thoughts and feelings that come with the Imposter Syndrome. If you’re in a field that predominantly consists of one ethnicity or gender, it can be easy to doubt yourself if you don’t fit into that same category. Finding a mentor who more closely matches your age, gender identity, race, or sexual orientation that is in the field you are in can help a great deal with your confidence.
One final way to help combat the Imposter Syndrome is to speak with a mental health professional. Reaching out to a licenced therapist can help in many ways, and they can help give you the tools you need to push past any feelings of doubt you may experience.
Dr. Diana Garcia
Dr. Diana Garcia has over 20 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has provided psychological and counseling services in Ontario, and the states of Pennsylvania, and Florida