Combatting Imposter Syndrome - Diana Quintuna

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

"They do not take on specific opportunities out of the fear that they may not perform adequately, leading to lost opportunities that they may have been more than qualified for."

According to clinical observations during therapeutic sessions with high achieving

women conducted by Dr. Pauline Clance, "Approximately 70% of

people will experience imposter syndrome, 20% of whom will first experience this in

their college career." However, imposter syndrome can manifest at any age.

Imposter syndrome is especially prevalent among women in STEM fields because

they may often be one, or among the very few females in their classes or

workplace, and are consequently constantly being doubted and tested on their


What is imposter syndrome exactly? Imposter syndrome is, "A psychological pattern in

which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of

being exposed as a 'fraud.'" The term imposter syndrome was created back in 1978 at Georgia State University by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. Although this

phenomenon is not gender nor sex-specific, many individuals who experience imposter

syndrome are women. Imposter syndrome is a dangerous thing to deal with because it

creates negative thoughts and harms the individual's self-esteem and self-perception,

which could be harmful to their careers and personal lives. The following thoughts

could present themselves.

You don't know


They'll find out I don't know


I am a failure

These thoughts may lead women to commit self-sabotage. They do

not take on specific opportunities out of the fear that they may not perform

adequately, leading to lost opportunities that they may have been more than qualified


Now, how do we combat imposter syndrome? It's not a simple, one-and-done fix,

but a journey.

1. Start a conversation.

This could be with trusted friends, a mentor, professors,

therapist, or parents. You may be surprised that they, too, could have once gone

through the same thing themselves.

2. Record and celebrate every accomplishment that you achieve.

No matter the size, a feat is still an achievement, and you have every right to be proud of it.

Be aware of these thoughts when they start popping up. It helps to take a few breaths

and look at the bigger picture. Are these thoughts true? Or are they thoughts that are

being generated by a fear of failure? For example, "I can't do this" could be replaced

with "Okay, it is taking me a little bit longer than expected, but I know that I can do it!" It

is totally okay if it is difficult at first. Take your time and practice. I still struggle with this

one myself.

3. Focus on your strengths, your contributions, and your achievements in both your career and personal life.

Write them down and save them as a reminder that

you have a lot of skills and ideas to offer.

People suffering from imposter syndrome tend to strive for perfection. Remember that

perfection is not attainable. Mistakes will be made, and that is perfectly okay. What

matters is progress, not perfection.

Have faith in


You are


Be proud of everything you have

accomplished so far.

You are going to accomplish so

much more.

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