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Impostor Syndrome: the famous ones who suffer from it and why it is more common in women | Health & Wellness

Stroke of good luck or being in the right place at the right time, that’s what many people who could suffer from “imposter syndrome” feel.

It is when they perceive that their work achievements are the result of a very good coincidence or chance, beyond their real abilities.

Impostor syndrome affects at least once in their lives 7 out of 10 workers, that is, 70% of the working population can suffer from it, but especially women who are the main affected by this disorder.

But that feeling of being a fraud is not something that happens to everyone, even when you are a woman as important as Michelle Obama; multiple Oscar nominee and winner Meryl Streep; or the actress of one of the most popular movie sagas in the world, like Emma Watson.

imposter syndrome
@energepic.com | pexels

What is imposter syndrome?

Impostor syndrome was a term coined in 1978 by two clinical psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who since that year have developed multiple studies and publications on the subject.

They came to give this name to the disorder after working for years with women who had significant work and academic success, but although they knew they were successful, they lived with a constant feeling of dissatisfaction.

That is, they felt that although they had achieved important goals, these were the result of luck, attributing a lack of skills and, therefore, the belief that their merits are a fraud.

Its origin can manifest itself at different moments of working life: when you take on a new project, change workplace or continue in the same or you are entrusted with a position of greater responsibility. All this implies that the person can be put in a position of imaginary disadvantage that leads them to think that they are “imposters”, Harper Bazaar consigns.

According to the writer Pilar Jericó, the origin is also in self-demand, since those who suffer from it have a thought based on the constant idea that they are a fraud as professionals or that they have skills that are not worthy of attention, reported El País.

This disorder can generate anxiety, lack of self-confidence and frustration at the impossibility of meeting high self-imposed standards, says Cecilia Gutiérrez, psychologist at the Organizational Development Unit at UCSC.

Impostor syndrome is more common in women
Engin Akyurt | pexels

The consequences of this disorder are “that the person constantly makes overexertion and manifests the feeling “that nothing is enough”. Also, that he hides his thoughts and feels insecure, requiring more approval from others and may even not complete his projects or leave them “halfway”.

Why does it affect women more?

According to Forbes Mexico, a study by the consulting firm KPMG indicated that 75% of women, regardless of what industry they are working in, have suffered impostor syndrome at least once in their working lives.

But why does it affect women more? The answer lies in the criticism and judgments that third parties make against women, which makes them doubt their abilities, generating insecurity and even, in some cases, they ask for help from those who made them doubt their abilities.

According to University of Notre Dame sociologist Jessica Collet, this is especially true of women taking careers believed to be non-traditional for their gender, such as science, technology, engineering and math. They may be above average, however, they feel the impostor syndrome.

According to the professor of Psychology Studies and Educational Sciences at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Marta Calderero, “Perfectionists, self-critical people, afraid of failure and who put a lot of pressure on themselves to achieve achievements are also at greater risk of suffer from this syndrome.

An important point is that this syndrome, although it is not classified as a mental illness, can cause many women to stop their careers.

María Arribas, CEO of GetHERtalent, a company specialized in reincorporating women who have taken a break of years in their careers back into the labor market, told El País “they tend to think that they are not qualified to face new challenges and reach better positions. The only way to work in those cases is with another person who makes you see that you can aspire to more than you think. That’s why it’s so important that we support each other.”

The case of Michelle Obama

In an interview with Vogue, Michelle Obama, the former first lady of the United States and one of the most influential women on the planet, who has even been asked to run to be the first president of North America, acknowledged that she suffers from the impostor syndrome.

Speaking to the magazine, Obama mentions “The impostor syndrome is very hard. We girls and women have been hearing for so long that our place is not where big decisions are made that, when we manage to reach those places, we do not stop questioning ourselves over and over again.

The also lawyer and writer adds “We feel insecure, we are not sure that we deserve to be there. We doubt our ideas, our abilities and the reasons for being where we are. Even when we are the ones who know the most, we cannot help but make ourselves small and not assert ourselves with all our strength.”

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama | Pete Souza

Obama also gives the recipe to get out of those toxic thoughts indicating “what has helped me the most is to remember that the worst criticism always comes from ourselves. Women face so many obstacles that if they didn’t deserve to be where they are, rest assured they wouldn’t be there.”

The former first lady stressed that although negative thoughts may appear as you take on new job challenges, you can always take them on and get the job done. She points out that the only way to grow is to leave fear behind and foster confidence that our voices and ideas are valuable.

In a lecture he gave in London for high school girls he told them “I have been on the most powerful boards and committees you can imagine. Also in NGOs, foundations, multinationals, and G-20 summits. I have a seat at the UN. I assure you that no one is as brilliant as he appears.

The celebrities who also have impostor syndrome

Michelle Obama is not the only celebrity who recognizes that she has impostor syndrome, other celebrities have also pointed it out.

Taylor Swift recently confessed that she suffered from impostor syndrome while directing the short film, All Too Well: The Short Film, which she recently presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

According to El Mundo, the singer mentioned in a conversation about her short film “I had in my head the impostor syndrome that told me: ‘You don’t know how to do this, there are people who have studied to direct’.

Other celebrities who experienced it are Kate Winslet, the Oscar-winning actress declared that before going to work she thought “I can’t do this, I’m a fraud”, something shared by her compatriot, Emma Watson.

The Harry Potter actress told Rookie magazine “I have a feeling of discomfort towards myself and the worst thing is that it increases day by day. Sometimes I think, ‘At some point, are people going to realize I’m a total fraud?’ I don’t deserve anything I’ve achieved over the last few years.”

“I keep my head up and in order by training every day (mainly running and boxing) and although it is so hard to be motivated sometimes, the feeling of blood pumping through my veins and a human body performing in such an impressive way makes me remember how great it is to be alive” mentioned the singer Ellie Goulding through Instagram, to highlight her way out of impostor syndrome.

However, they are not the only ones. Also Natalie Portman, Tina Fey or the model Bella Hadid have declared suffering from this disorder.

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