Impostor Syndrome

Andrey Yoshua
4 min readJul 4, 2021

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I have a story, few years ago, an english author named Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman invited to an event full of great people, artist, scientist, writer, innovator, seeing them Gaiman realized that in a couple of minutes, audience will also realize that Gaiman will not worth to be in the stage in front of them.

Besides him, there is an old guy. They talked many things, include that Gaiman and the old guy have the same first name, Neil. The old guy then pointing to the crowd of all the great people in front of him, and said, “I see a group of these people, i was thinking, what have i done here? All of them already made amazing achievement, while i am only a guy ever been in space just because i am working on my duty. Hearing this, Gaiman said to the old guy, “Yes, but you are the first person to be on top of the moon”. I think it means a lot.

Neil Armstrong on the moon

Neil Armstrong and Neil Gaiman are two of many people that have Impostor Syndrome. Impostor Syndrome is psychological pattern where someone doubting his own achievement and afraid that someday he will be found as a cheater. Someone with Impostor Syndrome will think that they will achieve something only because they are lucky, not because their skill or their achievement.

Beside Gaiman and Armstrong, famous people that has this syndrome are Albert Einstein, Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman, Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama and David Bowie. Every human have ever had this syndrome at least once in their life. If you ever feel that you are not worth to achieve your success, and you are worried that some day everyone will realize it, that is an Impostor Syndrome.

This feeling often hits us when we achieve outstanding achievement, for example, enter a prestigious university, getting promoted, winning an award, get public praise or recognition.

Thus far, no research have ever found definite cause of this syndrome. But, some experts conclude that it is related to a perfectionist quality of someone, or a childhood where someone raised while surrounded by people that they will never be the best.

Social media can also trigger impostor syndrome. Most of the Picture in the social media showing off a perfect life, going out to exotic corner of the world, a perfect flawless skin, romantic couple, harmony family, with a sooo sweet caption. Slowly, without us knowing, we start to compare other’s life that seems perfect with our too far away from perfect life.

Impostor syndrome actually can avoid us to be arrogant, work harder, go up and never stop to be the best. But, when it is too much, we become doubting ourself, afraid of failure, so that we are procrastinate thing, try to accumulate a courage to take a new chance, or exploring new thing that actually can sharpen our skill and bring a satisfaction in our life.

How to cope with this Impostor Syndrome when it hits you?

Change your frame of way of thinking

No one is perfect in this world, when we are sad, worry, afraid or even feeling stupid, we are not alone. Almost every people have ever feeling the same, it is just they that is not showing it.

Write your achievement
When we start questioning our skill in excess, sit, and write what skills that we have ever achieve and had this far. Is that achievement prestigious? Or is it ever make someone you love happy after they are sad all day long? Look again this note every time this syndrome hits you

Take good care of praise of your hard work
Remember this compliment, when this syndrome hits you

Stop comparing yourself

Back to Gaiman story, when he knew that an astronaut Neil Armstrong sometime feels like he is an impostor, Gaiman concluded, most likely, there are many people out there feeling the same. Because, at the end, maybe we are only a hard worker and sometime lucky, but not always skillful every time. Maybe we only need to try our best and that is already good enough.

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