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Imposter Syndrome: the Curse of the Successful Woman

woman with imposter syndrome wearing a white blouse and working at  a desk with open notebooks
I just built a house.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of plans made, papers signed, money spent, and congratulations received. It all went by so fast, and now I’m waking up every day in a home that I own. If you’d asked me on January 1st what my goals were for 2019, I probably wouldn’t have said homeownership. I just dove in when the opportunity presented itself and made it happen. 

My partner has been a significant help throughout this process, and that cannot be overlooked. He is my sturdy pillar of support, and I couldn’t have done this without him. But because I’m the one with the credit and income and we aren’t married yet, this home is in my name. I qualified all on my own. My name is on the papers and I’ve made all the phone calls, gone to all the appointments, and taken on the burden of a mortgage loan.

Combine that with my student loans, and I’m nearly 300k in debt. Scary, but exciting, right?

People keep asking me how excited I am, but it’s really hard to be excited when facing numbers like that. I know I should be thrilled about this incredible milestone, but doubt and fear are steadily creeping in. Do I even deserve this? Do I even deserve a home to make memories in if I couldn’t buy it outright? Do I even deserve a nice place to live if I’m not a millionaire?

I’m over seven years into a career as a professional editor and writer. I knew which career direction I wanted to take at a very young age, and I had the means to pursue the education necessary. I have worked incredibly hard to get where I am at only 26, but even typing that sounds like a big, fat lie in my brain. Imposter Syndrome is very, very real.

Imposter Syndrome (n): the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.

Research shows that women are way more likely to suffer from Imposter Syndrome than men.

It is the reason many women don’t speak up in work meetings or publicly praise themselves for their accomplishments. Imposter Syndrome shrouds women in darkness until they feel like a mere shadow of their own successes, which leads them to abandon goals of starting businesses, becoming parents, and taking other worthy risks. 

Imposter Syndrome can make us believe awful things about ourselves: that we’re faking it, that we’re incapable, and that we aren’t worthy of the nice things our success has afforded us. It can affect our

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livelihoods by discouraging us from asking for what we know we’re worth. It can suck the joy out of monumental life moments by making us believe we don’t deserve them. 

When you ask yourself who you think you are to deserve success, that’s not your skill level, education, or experience talking—that’s your Imposter Syndrome. Mine asks me daily what the hell I did to deserve a house and a job that affords me that house.

My Imposter Syndrome manifests most often in the form of guilt and regret.

I regret buying a house because my Imposter Syndrome tells me that a house is an extravagant expense I’m not worthy of. I feel guilty every time I buy something for my house that isn’t an absolute need because my Imposter Syndrome tells me I’m undeserving of play money. And don’t even get me started on children—even though I’ve always wanted one, my Imposter Syndrome tells me I’ll never be equipped to be a good parent, and that I’ll always have to live with the guilt of not doing more if I have one.

But that’s the thing.

woman working with imposter syndrome working at a table with text overlay

Women are always expected to do more. We are expected to do more housework, more childrearing, more mental load-bearing. We are expected to keep the peace in all environments, both work, and home, and be agreeable at all times. With all these expectations, we are more than entitled to exhaustion. But Imposter Syndrome tells us that we aren’t actually exhausted—we just aren’t good enough. 

If you’re struggling with Imposter Syndrome, this is your reminder that you are good enough. This is my reminder that I am good enough. We are more than good enough at work, at home, in our careers, as parents, and everything in between. We DESERVE what we’ve worked for, and we deserve to believe that. The only real imposter here is Imposter Syndrome.

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