The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Love Your Impostor Syndrome

photo courtesy of Brian Chan, Unsplash, CC
photo courtesy of Brian Chan, Unsplash, CC

As you may have heard, ahem, I have written a book that will be released next month, June 2016. I’m noticing just a teensy weensy bit of impostor syndrome.

Well, OK, maybe it’s not so teensy weensy. Possibly because it’s infused with generous amounts of fear: of failure, success, overwhelm, and, oh, utter humiliation and devastation for now and all eternity.

Because I know that you also have bouts of the syndrome, affectionately known as IMPS, it occurred to me that there must be some benefits. Right? Why would so many of us be afflicted if there weren’t something to gain?

So, here it is. My list of the top ten reasons why you should love your IMPS:

10. You can avoid the pressure and expectations that come with being seen as a very smart (not to mention gifted) person.

9. You’re protected from ever having to produce anything of note.

8. You don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed because no one will be paying attention to you and that’s the way your introverted soul likes it.

7. You might actually be an impostor so you’re not embarrassing yourself by admitting it now.

6. In a past life, you were burned at the stake for being brilliant, and that was kind of painful so you’d rather not repeat it.

5. Family members like you better when you’re not so uppity.

4. You were bullied in school for showing your intellectual enthusiasm so you decided that  mediocrity was a safe alternative.

3. You grew up with narcissistic parents and will avoid being like them — at all costs.

2. Your need to be fair and equitable to all humans overwhelms the evidence that you might be smarter than many of them.

1. People like you because you’re less annoying so they bring you tuna casseroles and cupcakes when you’re sick.

So, the next time you go out and write your book or speak your mind or believe that you’re gifted in spite of your fears of utter humiliation and devastation for all eternity, remember to love your IMPS.

And yourself.


To my dearest bloggEEs: Tell us about your experiences with impostor syndrome. What’s it like for you? What helps? And, thank you. When we meet? I’ll bring the cupcakes.


Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

33 responses to “The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Love Your Impostor Syndrome”

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  1. The Pressure To Always Be The Smartest One In The Room | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] proves what you secretly believe to be the case. That you are not as smart as everyone says. You are an impostor. You have been faking it all these years. You have been lucky. The work has been easy. Your […]

  2. ummyaqub Avatar

    O this is balm for a chaotic day, ups, dwns, worried I am gifted…worried I’m not! Thank you Paula, this really brightened my evening. =) <3

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Happy to help, Lisa!

      1. ummyaqub Avatar

        thank you Paula =)

  3. Jess Avatar

    My imposter syndrome is mad that I read this! It makes me want to be sure that my two gifted little dudes don’t let their own ISs take over. ❤️

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yep. The more you understand yourself, Jess, the more your little dudes will benefit!

  4. Lucinda Leo Avatar
    Lucinda Leo

    This really made me laugh (always good). Yes, lots of secondary gain from IMPS. Loving all the book teasers, too. 🙂 Thank you for writing!

  5. Sarah Avatar

    Thanks for the great post! 3, 5 and 7 here. And #1, too, if I’m really being honest. I couldn’t agree more with Jade. I had to protect myself from my mom and sister. Now that I have a more healthy (if somewhat distant) relationship with both, those old habits are still so hard to break. I’m always ready for someone to mock me. Or ask the “why is it that you know EVERYTHING?” question that my family can’t seem to keep themselves from asking. My sister loves to point out that “normal” people just don’t know things like “that.” Somehow, no-one outside my family ever does that to me. The braver I get, the more I find that there are lots of people out there who accept me for who and how I am. And the more able I am to understand that many of the rest are just reflecting their own insecurities. Baby steps…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Well said, Sarah. I’m sure others will relate. When there’s family trauma, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Baby steps, yes!

    2. KtCallsita Avatar

      Sarah, What you have said, is not only heart-breaking that you receive so little internal support – but so familiar in the world in general. This past weekend I was visiting with friends and I had to remind them, that we have self-selected our fellow like-minded people. Others who can grasp our quick jumps from topic to topic and broad expertise on a variety of interests. That’s why others, not within our circle often get confused and turned off by us.

  6. Aubrey Avatar

    Thank you! Yet again just what I needed.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Appreciate hearing from you, Aubrey.

  7. maggiebrown2015 Avatar

    Ha! I too was burned at the stake in a past life! Glad you’re reminded me of that one. I was just about to do something amazing! WHEW. I’ll crawl under my rock again safe and ….well,safe.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hey Maggie. Sorry for the reminder. 🙂 C’mon out now.

  8. CA Avatar

    Hey Paula wow what a luminous piece of writing yet again. It rings true for me completely.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, CA.

  9. agingpotential Avatar

    So familiar that gut wrenching feeling before the release of something we create with all our mind /heart/being, only to hesitate, wondering, catastrophizing, quaking in our boots. Your courage is legendary in my eyes, Paula, & I appreciate your willingness to say it out loud more than I can say. I feel that the ability to see and feel so keenly and from so many critical aspects can easily be misconstrued as a reason to hold back, hesitate, push away. I’m learning that it’s all a gift that takes time to recognize, admire and after much (much!) practice can we share the knowledge. Sending much positive support for the forthcoming book, Paula, & loads of encouragement to us all to bring these misunderstood truths to those who can appreciate the depth of the sensitivity and intensity so muvh a part of the message and ourselves.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you so much, agingpotential. Love this: “I feel that the ability to see and feel so keenly and from so many critical aspects can easily be misconstrued as a reason to hold back, hesitate, push away. I’m learning that it’s all a gift that takes time to recognize, admire and after much (much!) practice can we share the knowledge.”

  10. Katja Avatar

    This. So much.

  11. Jade Rivera Avatar
    Jade Rivera

    The mechanisms we use to protect ourselves are often the ones that hold us back later in life. And the need to protect ourselves stems from prescient wisdom. This is something I remind myself of when I’m being hard on myself. Your post brought those thoughts and feelings to the forefront today. Always a good thing. Thank you. <3

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Jade. Great to hear your thoughts!!

  12. telperion1214 Avatar

    Paula, thank you for your honesty about your feelings with the imminence of your book release.
    I LOVE the IMPS list and it really makes me smile. Been there done that kind of smile!
    You go girl! You rock!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for your ongoing support, telperion1214! 🙂

  13. KtCallsita Avatar

    But doesn’t acknowledging IMPS take away some of its authority and power? Maybe I just want to believe? Good luck with your book it’s going to be amazing!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think that’s exactly what it does. That’s what this post is all about!! Being able to laugh a little at our IMPS. Always good to hear from you KtCallsita.

  14.  Avatar

    This touched me greatly this morning. Perfect timing!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you.

  15.  Avatar

    I am SO eager to read “Your Rainforest Mind”. What an exciting time for you and all your friends and readers! You’ll never know how many people you’ve touched and helped. Love from one of the rainforest creatures…

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Sending the love back.

  16. poprice Avatar

    This is a provocative piece. I like it! This morning I was mulling over the “bright side/dark side” reality of many “disorders” or “behaviors,” and I think there is something to be said for impostor syndrome being, for G/2E people, a super-charged gut check. A little bit of humility and mindful contemplation of one’s actions and consequences is healthy for anyone, but those of us with strong OEs and intensities can take it too far and BOOM — trouble. Learning to accept and manage it is probably the healthiest path forward.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment, Pamela. I always enjoy hearing your take on things.

  17. helenjnoble Avatar

    Reblogged this on helenjnoble and commented:
    Excellent post!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the reblog, Helen!