Feeling out of place is completely natural, here’s some research behind Imposter syndrome

First of all, what is Imposter Syndrome you may be asking?

Imposter Syndrome is defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. People who experience imposter syndrome may feel that they don’t deserve their successes, whether they are career related or personal achievements. People suffering from imposter syndrome may also find it difficult to accept their accomplishments and this in turn can cause them to feel discomfort and anxiety, and second guess themselves. Imposter syndrome is a pattern of self-doubt that can lead to anxiety, stress just to name a few.

This can be caused by coming from a highly value achieving family or entering a new role can also cause imposter syndrome. 

We have all been there feeling that we are less than others around us and don’t deserve to be in the position we are in, but of course, you do!

In the instance that you do feel out of place there are five categories of imposter syndrome:

The Perfectionist

The perfectionist sets exceptionally high goals for themselves and experience major self doubt and worry when trying to reach them. Sometimes things seem daunting and unattainable because we’ve built them up in our minds so that they’re bigger than Ben Nevis. The uneasiness and anxiety that goes with this is awful enough to put anyone off. Guess what? The unrealistic standards make you want to start the task even less! So ease the unrealistic standards, and consider setting a task that extends you rather than deflates you.

Superwoman/ Man

The superwoman/ man feels like they haven’t truly earned their title so feel they have to work harder than others to be accepted. The superwoman/man represents a person with imposter syndrome that often struggles with work addiction. This person may feel inadequate relative to colleagues and continue to push themselves as hard as possible, regardless of the consequences on mental, physical and emotional health.

  • Do you get stressed when you’re not working and find downtime completely wasteful?
  • Have you left your passions fall by the wayside, sacrificed to work?Look at this in a different mindset.

As you become more attuned to internal validation and able to nurture your inner confidence that states you’re competent and skilled, you’ll be able to ease off the gas as you gauge how much work is reasonable.

Natural Genius

If the natural genius takes a long time to master something, they feel shame and want to be competent at things quickly. Natural genius types don’t just judge themselves based on ridiculous expectations, they also judge themselves based on getting things right on the first try. When they’re not able to do something quickly or fluently, their alarm sounds.

Natural genius description

  • Are you used to excelling without much effort?
  • Do you often avoid challenges because it’s so uncomfortable to try something you’re not great at?

Try seeing yourself as a work in progress. Accomplishing great things involves lifelong learning and skill-building—for everyone, even the most confident people. Rather than beating yourself up when you don’t reach your impossibly high standards, identify specific, changeable behaviors that you can improve over time.


The soloist feels that they need to accomplish things on their own and don’t need help with anything. They feel that asking for help shows their phoniness. It’s ok to be independent, but not to the extent that you refuse assistance so you can prove your worth. Do you firmly feel that you need to accomplish things on your own? “I don’t need anyone’s help”, does that sound like you? Realise that there’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. If you can’t figure out how to do something don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek advice. 

The Expert

The expert measures their competence based on how much they know or can do. They think they will never know enough, and worry they could get exposed as unknowledgeable. Do you shy away from applying to job postings unless you meet every single requirement? Even if you have been in a role for a while can you relate to feeling like you still don’t know enough? It’s true there will always be more to learn but taken too far, the tendency to endlessly seek out more information can actually be a form of procrastination. 

Get in touch and let me know which category you think you come under.

Personally I feel I come under the perfectionist category and if you also relate to this category I advise you learn to accept your mistakes and view them as a natural part of the learning process. Your mistakes help you to progress. You could overcome your feeling of imposter syndrome by starting that project you have been planning for months. The truth is there will never be a ‘perfect time’ and your work will never be 100% flawless. The sooner you can come to terms with this the quicker you will feel a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

How could you stop feeling this way?

It can be difficult to break these feelings, step one is to realise you are successful because you have worked for it and deserve all opportunities that are handed to you. Receiving positive validation from your peers can also make you feel you belong in your position.

If this has been of interest to you listen to the podcast episode here

Love and Light 

Nicola x