Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self

photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC
photo courtesy Madeline Tallman, Unsplash, CC

If you really were an impostor, you wouldn’t be worrying that you’re an impostor.

Think about it. There are people we all know who do not worry about this. They firmly believe that they have all of the answers and that they are very smart. They do not worry that they are impostors. Kind of like a narcissist doesn’t worry that he’s a narcissist because he’s a narcissist.

You, on the other hand, well, you worry. You have the depth, sensitivity and intelligence to know that there are no easy answers or quick solutions. Except, maybe, if you’re asking: Should I eat that hot fudge sundae now or later?

But you don’t trust that your depth, sensitivity and intelligence is enough. You don’t trust that it means that you’re gifted. You imagine that some day the truth will come out and you’ll be exposed as the fraud that you truly are.

And there are good reasons for this. You can find them here. It’s helpful to know the reasons.

But. What if, just for today, you decided that you couldn’t waste any more time worrying when the truth will come out. Worrying when you’ll be exposed. Worrying when you will fail spectacularly.

You have things to do.

What might that be like? Saying goodbye to your impostor syndrome.

Maybe you’d have more time to create. Maybe you’d finally start that project that’s been calling your name for years. Maybe your children would need less therapy when they got older. Maybe it would bring you closer to your authentic Self and your mission here on earth.

(Note: Do not panic about the “mission” thing. No pressure. Well, maybe a little pressure. But your mission doesn’t need to be: end world hunger. Although, it can be. Your purpose may be to raise compassionate, sensitive, empathetic humans and/or to end the legacy of abuse in your family line. Just imagine if everyone on earth did that. Just imagine.)

I know saying goodbye will not be easy. The impostor syndrome is tangled and thorny. I’m just asking you to start the process. Feel into it. Repeat after me: I have a rainforest mind. In my own particular uniquely magnificent way, I am gifted. If I were really an impostor, I wouldn’t be worrying that I’m an impostor.

Now, let’s go eat that sundae.


To my bloggEEs: What if you play with this idea and describe or draw an image of yourself without your impostor syndrome. What do you look like? How do you feel? Is it scary? Lonely? Freeing? Exciting? If you have a journal, write about it. Tell us in the comments what you’ve discovered. And thank you, as always, for your courage.

This post is part of a blog hop from Click on the image to find more posts on the topic of gifted children and adults, written by parents and professionals.13879215_10208710258486417_2791415865854519067_n





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.

27 responses to “Goodbye To Your Impostor Syndrome — Hello To Your Authentic Self”

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  1. How I Ignored My Impostor Syndrome to Create a Career Working with Smart People – YOUR RAINFOREST MIND

    […] that point, you would think, I would freak out. Impostor syndrome, here I come, baby. I mean, really. It was clear that many of my clients were well beyond me in the […]

  2. Learning Comes Easily To Gifted Kids And Adults — How Might That Be A Problem? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] You feel like an impostor. You have managed to accomplish a lot but you do not know how you did […]

  3. You Are Not Complaining. Being Gifted is a Gift. But It Can Also Be Terribly Lonely. | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] Astonishing intuition. Unquenchable thirst for learning. Pressure to always know the right answer. Impostor syndrome. Expectations to be super smart in all things. Multiple complicated sensitivities. More […]

  4. Pam Avatar

    Vanessa, yes! I’ve experienced this and also enough rejection on the job that it’s easy to buy into the imposter role. To have an idealistic view of a job and employer, and a desire achieve excellence, gets in the way of others who don’t have these same traits. They push back and eventually out — so that one doubts abilities and is therefore an unwelcomed imposter. Now I deal with this as I get my child through the education system. This blog has given me much insight, but I’m not sure I’m comforted that he will also live this way.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Hard to see your child going through this. Of course. But he has you to help him through!!

  5. If I’m So Smart, Why Do I Feel Like A Failure? | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] perfectionism: fear of failure, avoidance of activities that don’t guarantee success, impostor syndrome and procrastination. It can lead to anxiety and depression. Being smart becomes a static thing. You […]

  6. Vanessa Avatar

    As an avid reader and multi-potentiality personality, I devour literature, news, blogs, journal articles, magazine articles, and anything that leads me to greater depth in something that I seek to understand. When I offer information in discussion regarding what I have read (that is pertinent to the discourse), I am often met with blank stares; and other times, I am met with a great deal of skepticism- not only about the accuracy of the information but also that I actually read enough to have a working understanding of the topic because how can anyone read that much. Even my closest friends doubt me, which contributes to the sense of being a fraud. I don’t have a degree in that subject. I haven’t worked in that field, how can I speak with any sense of understanding about that subject. These are things that people say to me. There are certainly many other contributing factors to feeling like an imposter, but I think finding a disconnect and a lack of understanding about the very nature of who you are by those you trust the most can have devastating consequences on the psyche. It has also been my experience that there are some individuals who are very threatened by the term gifted and the abilities that come with that designation. Seeking to provide emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and educational support to my four gifted children has been eye opening. It is in trying to better understand them and their needs that I have come to better understand myself. Your post reminds me of this, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates

    Thank you for your blog posts. I’m just beginning to read all of them and I feel understood, which is a very odd feeling indeed.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, Vanessa, what you describe here is no surprise to me. This is what it means to be gifted. Thank you for sharing. I know other readers will be nodding their heads.

  7. FredB Avatar

    Found it!

    “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober


  8. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Such a common problem, especially for women. Gifted people receive so many mixed messages about their abilities that it is hard to believe what is real. Great info about the nagging effects of feeling like an impostor.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Gail! I always appreciate hearing from you.

  9. The Fissure Avatar
    The Fissure

    This comes up a lot as an “AHA” for parents when we teach the concept for the first time in our workshops. Love this: “Your purpose may be to raise compassionate, sensitive, empathetic humans…”

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you. You’re welcome to provide a link here to your workshop information in case a reader would like to attend! Are they local or online? Both?

  10. ARY Avatar

    I had a conversation with someone a few weeks ago in which she was incorrect about the identification of a plant. In this case, identifying an inedible plant as an edible one to a child. I was surprised to find she seemed more concerned about being thought to not know her stuff than about getting it right so she didn’t confuse the child. In later conversation about her background, it sounded like there might be a lot of pressure to be seen as an expert, and she didn’t know yet that I had a degree too; I was just a parent. I thought of impostor syndrome in talking with her. My impostor syndrome doesn’t come out in needing to know the answers; it is more about my social awkwardness and the fear that if people get to know me well enough, they will stop wanting to be around me. My husband of twelve years and friends who have stuck around 20 years or more are helping me prove that wrong, but it still surfaces occasionally.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you. Impostor syndrome does take different forms. Appreciate you sharing your particular variety!

  11. willskde Avatar

    Hi! I used to have impostor syndrome. I *think* I’m over it, though from life experience I know that some things come & go, lol; not sure if this is one of them! See…. there’s an example of getting over it: not feeling pressured to have all the answers. I think this is a huge key to EVERYONE’s mental health and getting along with others! I know my example is pretty simplified and direct; but hopefully it paints a good example:
    One of the biggest things that helped was my fear when I started teaching adult classes. I was SO worried that a student would ask me something I didn’t know, or correct me if I was wrong, etc, with me up there in front, sweating, in the spotlight, not knowing what to say… “She’s an impostor!! She shouldn’t be teaching!” they’d all point and yell, with torches, chasing me to the gallows (or the dean’s office to complain), lol! I figured out that the BEST secret weapon you have as a teacher (and in life?), to get you out of tough spots or worries like that is….
    “I don’t know”.
    THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH NOT KNOWING SOMETHING, even if you’re the teacher or boss, believe it or not. I wish everyone was brought up understanding this! No one on the planet knows everything, no matter what their IQ is. Once we realize that we will NEVER know everything, we can relax and not be afraid or embarrassed to say in casual conversation “Oh really? I didn’t know that.” or when in an authoritative position, “You know, I’m not 100% sure of that, so let me look it up and I’ll get back to you with a firmer answer”. Honestly, you may never need it, but practice saying things like that so you’re ready if you ever do. I know that may be simplifying the whole impostor syndrome issue, but if we intelligent people can…
    1.) not be ashamed to call ourselves intelligent, like I just called myself even though it felt a little awkward to type the word, and …
    2.) realize that it *doesn’t* mean we are under obligation to be perfect or know everything, because that is IMPOSSIBLE…
    I think those two things are a good start to being comfortable with ourselves.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, yes, yes!! Very important points. This will resonate with many readers, I’m sure.

  12. Alessa Avatar

    With all the years of battling imposter syndrome, I never really thought if it that way: If you really were an impostor, you wouldn’t be worrying that you’re an impostor. Thank you for that pearl of wisdom.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re welcome, Alessa!

  13. Perrianne Brownback Avatar
    Perrianne Brownback

    Thank you…..

  14. My Little Poppies Avatar
    My Little Poppies

    “If you really were an impostor, you wouldn’t be worrying that you’re an impostor.” <—- Oh my goodness, yes!

    And worry is such a waste of time. I'd much rather eat sundaes 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Me, too!!

  15. paperythinideas Avatar

    Without my imposter syndrome, I am kind and encouraging to my co-workers, I am self-assured and patient with my family, I can share my thoughts and feelings with others, not out of desperate frustration and exasperation, but from wanting to share my insight and passion with a world that could benefit from a little understanding and genuine concern …

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober


  16. Walther Ligtvoet Avatar
    Walther Ligtvoet

    A week ago, during a meet, we discussed this very topic. How a lot of us felt like impostors, even after all those years. Going to share this with the others..

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing, Waither!

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