Successful, but full of doubt? How to tackle imposter syndrome

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Imposter syndrome is an ugly phenomenon that robs you of the sweet taste of success you worked so hard to achieve. We are living in a time when Black women have become one of the most educated segments of the American population as defined by gender and race, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, yet we still struggle with thoughts of inferiority. How do we kick these useless thoughts to the curb and prepare our defenses for when imposter syndrome knocks on our door again? I found the perfect person to help us understand how imposter syndrome shows up in Black people, why it’s even more of a challenge for us and how we can overcome it. My guest this week on The Reset with Coach Tish is career counselor and the founder of Her Career Doctor, Dr. Tega Edwin.

“Imposter syndrome really is a way of thinking where you don’t believe you’re as competent as other people perceive you to be,” Dr. Edwin explains. “Even when you’re successful, you’re doubting yourself and your ability to perform. I think it’s key to clarify here because whenever we’re starting something new, it’s natural to feel some nerves. Imposter syndrome specifically is characterized by two things: there’s this persistent, internalized fear that you’re going to be exposed as a fraud. And there’s an inability for you to internalize successes while you analyze failure. So when things go wrong, it’s your fault. But when things went right, it was somebody else. It was luck; it wasn’t you,” she adds.

As Dr. Edwin further explains, while most of us will experience imposter syndrome at some point in our lives, it’s more common in women—and women of color, in particular.”

“Just think of corporate America: it’s not very Black woman-friendly if we’re being honest. That can really feed into those feelings of self-doubt,” she notes, later adding, “when you go into a space where maybe you’re the first Black woman or you’re the first woman, there’s this pressure to perform at a certain level because it’s almost like you want to show that all Black women can do it. You’re the representation of everybody else that comes after you. You want to be able to leave the door open for them.”

The good news is, we don’t have to accept any of these feelings as facts. In fact, if we look around us there’s plenty of evidence that proves we are worthy of our success and confidence in our competence that brought us to this point. Watch today’s episode of The Reset with Coach Tish (above) for Dr. Edwin’s tips on how you can combat imposter syndrome.

Letisha Bereola is a life coach who helps ambitious women overcome burnout and reach their career goals so they feel great at work and happy at home. She’s an Emmy-nominated former TV news anchor, podcast host of AUDACITY and speaker. Learn more:

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