Afraid you’ll be revealed as an impostor? You’re not alone.
Most people experience impostorism at least once. Certain groups however are more prone to it than others.
Some people manage to have great success and rather than enjoying the fruits of their labor, they spend their time completely disillusioned. This is called impostor syndrome and it's when a person doubts their own success and fears being outed as a fraud. Was it mere luck, they wonder? The irony is, they should be enjoying a boost in self-esteem, rather than wallowing in fear and paranoia.
First discovered in 1978 by U.S. psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, impostor syndrome is defined as a “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement." It's important to note that impostor syndrome isn't in the DSM V—the manual of all psychological disorders. Even so, psychologists and other mental health experts agree it's very real and can weigh heavily on your life.
A 2011 study, published in the International Journal of Behavior Science, found that 70% of the professional women studied experienced the syndrome, also called impostorism or the impostor phenomenon. The women experienced fear, anxiety, and dissatisfaction as a result. At first, it was only thought to affect female professionals but studies throughout the '80s and '90s found that most people experience it at some point in their lives. There is evidence, however, that women and minorities might be more prone to it.
Immediately after a huge success or for a couple of weeks after starting a new job, it's normal. When does it become a problem? When the feeling persists for far longer. The most susceptible are those who grew up in a household that put a strong emphasis on personal achievement. Many sufferers gain self-worth through accomplishment. Often their parents lavished excessive praise on them when they did achieve growing up and overwhelming criticism when they missed the mark. So as adults, they associate love and self-worth with a sense of accomplishment.
Growing up with an over-achieving sibling may also make one prone to impostor syndrome. It instills feelings of inadequacy that the person takes with them into adulthood. The weight of an office or an overwhelming success may bring it on as well. It's said that most presidents, when spending their first day in the Oval Office, get the sneaking suspicion they don't belong there. Maya Angelou once wrote, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out.'"
Those who really suffer from the syndrome are usually more than capable of handling the tasks before them. It's really their inability to accurately judge their own talents and skills that allows this fog of self-doubt to cloud their vision. Fortunately, there are ways to handle it. One of the best is to consult with a mentor. Usually, a good mentor can give you a more accurate assessment of your abilities, dispel your fears, and even let you know that they felt the same way.
Mentor someone else. Sometimes you don't realize how much knowledge you have until you pass it on. Writing a blog surrounding your expertise may help too. Come to realize that it's impossible to do a perfect job and indeed, perfection itself is an abstract concept that doesn't actually exist. Shoot for well done or even meeting expectations. Learn to celebrate your accomplishments. Reflect too, on what you did to reach your goals. What were the steps? Concrete evidence of one's efforts is hard to ignore.
Challenging negative thoughts is the most important thing. Those who cannot effectively do so might need to see a therapist and perhaps undergo cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). For those who are going through a period of impostor syndrome, remember that perception doesn't equal reality. Combat negative voices by inviting them in and using evidence to dispel them.
Want to see if you suffer from impostor syndrome? Take the quiz.
(Leary, Patton, Orlando, & Funk, 2000)
Read each of the following statements and evaluate how much each pertains to you.
(Scale: 1 = Not at all like me. 2 = Slightly like me. 3 = Moderately like me. 4 = Very much like me. 5 = Extremely like me).
1) Sometimes I fear being found out for who I really am. _____
2) I often feel like a fraud. _____
3) I'm afraid important people in my life will find out that I'm not as talented as they believe. _____
4) In some situations I feel like an impostor. _____
5) Sometimes I fear that others will find out how much knowledge or ability I lack. _____
6). In some situations, I feel like a "great pretender," like I'm not who others perceive me to be. _____
7) Sometimes I act like an impostor. _____
To learn more about impostor syndrome, click here:
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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