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  • Esty Rosenfeld

Imposterdom: Combating fraudulent feelings

We are social creatures. We often rely on others to help keep us going and motivated. For some, these extended months of social distancing may have posed an extra challenge on them, their motivation and work performance. These people don’t only rely on social support but need it.

Feeling Like A Phony:

The Imposter Phenomenon was first coined by two psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. It is a term used to describe people who feel they are not rightfully deserving of their position. These people often feel like their cover will be blown and people will know that they are incompetent and a complete fraud.

In the article “Great Pretenders” written for the Scientific American, Birgit Spinath talks about the three main components of this phenomenon: feeling like a fraud, having the inability to accept praise and attributing your successes to luck instead of to your hard work.

There are two ways in which this can play out. There’s the over-doer who prepares and reviews material even once they have already mastered it. This causes them to become stressed knowing that they won’t always be able to perform at such a high level. They have essentially raised their own bar too high. The under-doer will beat around the bush and fail to prepare. This person will procrastinate or do other meaningless tasks to avoid the true task at hand. If they nonetheless succeed at the task, they attribute it to luck.

According to an article written for the Journal of Business and Psychology, the social environment can, to some extent, act as a buffer to help reduce these feelings.

Say it Louder:

The first step to overcome this challenge is to recognize that you are experiencing it. Saying it out loud may take away some of its power. Tell someone who you trust that you’ve been experiencing this so that they can offer some support, even if it’s virtual.

Make Yourself a Mantra:

Aibileen Clark was onto something when she made the sad little girl repeat the affirmation “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” in the movie “The Help”. Write yourself an affirmation to read to yourself listing your positive virtues and capabilities. You may not believe all of it but repeating it over and over will help internalize it. Reminding yourself why you want or need to do a certain task and the benefits you’ll gain will make you want to do it more.

Break it Down Now:

Take all your goals and divide them into small doable tasks. This will help make the big items seem less scary.

do assignment 1

Assignment 1

1) find sources

2) highlight the main points

3) write the essay

4) proofread it

5) submit it.

Remove Distractions:

Everyone says our generation has a short attention span, but it may have just gotten even shorter. There is no teacher telling you to close your phone during class. If you find yourself taking too many phone breaks, put a lock on your social media apps during times you allocate for school. It may be in the settings in your phone, otherwise, download an app to help you reduce the urge to scroll through your phone.


Rewarding yourself for goals you accomplish can help keep you motivated. Make sure that the goals are reasonable and that the rewards are enticing enough.

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