You guessed it, I’m now covering psychologic disorders in Pathophysiology! However, the book is limited to schizophrenia, mood disorders, OCD, anxiety, etc. While searching for reputable sources for a concept map on bipolar disorder, I came across Imposter Syndrome/Phenomenon. As a side note, it’s totally unrelated to bipolar disorder. Just another day in the life of searching EBSCO databases and not finding any articles you actually want for your paper… but finding everything else. I’m actually happy to have come across this topic. I found it very relevant to goal-oriented, motivated women seeking higher education in nursing. Of course, throughout Pathophysiology, I’ve determined I have every disorder until proven innocent, and this is no exception (Just kidding… I’m totally not a hypochondriac. But Patho could make me be one, if I wanted to be!)
“Buried in the hearts and minds of many high-achieving individuals is the private sense of being an impostor or fraud… perceived intellectual phoniness that is held by certain high-achieving adults who, despite their objective successes, fail to internalize these successes” (Kolligian & Sternberg, 1991, p. 308). Did you catch that? Now, everyone raise your hands if that sounds like you (metaphorically, speaking). *Big gulp* Yeah, this includes me. My hand is raised so high, I might have dislocated my shoulder. Fortunately, musculoskeletal systems are next… so I’m covered.
Graduate students may feel like the admissions office made a mistake in admitting them into the program, feeling like other students are more qualified than them, high grades are due to luck, anxiety, poor self confidence, and setting extremely high self-imposed expectations (p. 308). This syndrome is largely populated in educated, successful women.
Now to be fair, I don’t believe that this syndrome is diagnosable. There aren’t medications for this phenomenon (although I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies may just eat this up: “Ask you doctor if *insert some generic medication reformulated* is right for you”).
But let’s take a minute and just remember where we are. Whether you an NP, NP student, or someone who happen to stroll across my blog, these feelings may be real. I have felt at times that my success was based on luck or timing, I set unrealistic goals for myself to push harder, and I feel that other students in my class may be more qualified simply because of their years of experience (which doesn’t make someone better than another).
Here’s what I suggest:
- Identify your symptoms. What do they say in AA? Oh yeah… admit that you have a problem.
- Remember, you are successful. If you’re here, you’re successful. Tell yourself a thousand times in the mirror. If you don’t believe it yourself, you’re going to limit yourself from amazing opportunities to teach, write a professional journal, take that once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity. You deserve to believe in yourself and allow yourself to stop believing that you’ve made a hundred “lucky” decisions. You’re where you are, because you got yourself here. YOU did.
- You might tell yourself “I shouldn’t be here.” Why not? Why shouldn’t you be? Start believing. Why should you hold yourself back?
- If you’re trying to hold yourself back from an opportunity because you don’t think you’re good enough, take the opportunity and prove yourself wrong.
- Find a support system.
- Make yourself some kind of vision board. Only, put up your accomplishments instead. Diplomas, certificates, papers you got an A on, some vacation you went on because you saved up and worked hard for it. Whatever you want. Something that you can look at everyday to remind yourself just how successful you are!
- What would you tell someone you loved if they told you they felt like an imposter? Tell yourself THAT.
- Write yourself a positive note everyday. Cheesey, sure. I don’t even need to tell you that I can find you a 100 research articles that demonstrate the efficacy.
- Own your accomplishments!
- Accept criticism and let it make you stronger. You’re not a failure, you just found something that you can fix to make yourself THAT much better.
- Make your goals realistic.
Kolligian, J., & Sternberg, R. (1991). Perceived fraudulence in young adults: is there an “imposter syndrome”?. Journal Of Personality Assessment, 56(2), 308-326.