‘Impostor Syndrome,’ identity issues trouble Millennials



Alison Simon

Alison Simon, Columnist

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it.” But have you ever felt like you never stop faking it? There may have been moments where you considered yourself under-qualified for a job, or maybe you’ve felt unable to accept well-deserved praise.

A study conducted by the International Journal of Behavioral Science shows that at least 70 percent of millennials feel like frauds and do not believe they are intelligent, capable or creative despite being highly motivated. This is also known as Impostor Syndrome.

The effects of Impostor Syndrome are most commonly seen in college students, managers, and medical workers. Even Albert Einstein felt his work didn’t deserve the attention it’s received.

People that are often considered to be over-achievers may experience some level of Impostor Syndrome, but they may feel like their achievements don’t amount to much and often attribute their success to luck. However, there are ways to combat the feeling of being a fraud.

Anyone who has ever tried something out of their comfort zone and succeeded has probably felt that way, even a little bit. We all doubt ourselves, but more often than not we feel alone in our doubt. We beat ourselves up and tell ourselves that we simply aren’t as skilled or prepared as everyone else. I know I have felt this way before, especially while prepping for internship fairs.

Firstly, just by me telling you about it, you can put a term to your feelings if you also experience the phenomenon. So, hopefully, just by knowing that what you’re feeling isn’t uncommon, you can start to combat your own Impostor Syndrome.

Own your achievements, and just say “thank you” when you receive accolades. Use those moments to allow yourself a pat on the back and tell yourself that you really are great, and the people around you think so too.

Although we live in an age where we can easily end up comparing our imperfect lives with the “perfect” ones we see on social media, it’s time to stop comparing yourself to others. Surround yourself with the good stuff in your life, especially the stuff you’re even a little bit proud of. For me, that includes supportive notes from family and friends.

Lastly, take a moment to do a self-assessment. Consider the qualities that have brought great people into your life and celebrate them. Think of all the hardships you’ve overcome and how some of them made you stronger.

If you find yourself in the 70 percent of millennials who feel like they’ve been faking it all along, it’s time to allow yourself to accept the credit you deserve. And trust me, if I’m worthy of acknowledging and respecting myself, so are you.

Reaching a point where you can confidently respect yourself and overcoming the feeling of being a fraud may take some extra time and care. If you feel like meeting with an on-campus counselor would be beneficial for you, please call 605-688-4157 to make an appointment with Counseling Services at the Wellness Center.

Alison Simon is an agricultural communication major and can be reached at [email protected].