Thoughts on imposter syndrome and my health.

In preparation for writing this post, I decided to take some random imposter syndrome tests I found online. It was a very spontaneous decision so I don’t know what to make of it yet.

Note to self: You’re probably experiencing imposter syndrome about your imposter syndrome. Please try to remember that you don’t need to prove anything or need to manipulate the results.

Wait! What is imposter syndrome?

Let’s all get on the same page here. Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon (do do dododo) where your brain doesn’t believe that you have the abilities you claim or that you’re not worthy of recognition for what you accomplish.

Here’s a proper definition.

Imposter syndrome is the inability to internalize your successes, coupled with the fear of being outed as an unqualified fraud.

If you’re reading my blog then you probably already know all about imposter syndrome. 😜

What type of imposter am I?

First was a test on the Grammarly blog. This test assumed that you do at least occasionally experience imposter syndrome and tried to categorize it kinda like a personality test would. The types of imposters, as defined by Dr. Valerie Young, are as follows:

  1. The Perfectionist
  2. The Superhero
  3. The Natural Genius
  4. The Rugged Individualist
  5. The Expert

Before I began the test I thought that I was gonna be a strong perfectionist. My actual result?

The superhero! 🦸‍♀️ (Bold and italic, Matthew? Yaasss, Queen!)

That’s right! I’m a superhero imposter syndrome haver! 😁 The test has this to say about my result:

The Superhero imposter is one who feels like a less legitimate professional than their colleagues and takes on more and more and pushes hard to seem like the real deal.

In fact, Superhero imposters are workaholics, hooked on the validation they get from work rather than the actual work. Fixing this kind of imposter syndrome should be focused on training yourself to find internal validation rather than external validation. By shifting your focus, you’ll learn how to incorporate more balance into your workload.

I can relate, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. While I do have some validation issues–probably more than I realize or acknowledge–I would not call myself a workaholic. Though I may just be denying reality. Who knows for sure? I certainly don’t.

My partner took the test too and got “the perfectionist” and oh boy can I relate to what that one had to say!

Perfectionists are the most common personality type to experience imposter syndrome, and it makes sense – perfectionists set unrealistic expectations for performance, and when those expectations aren’t met, they question their self worth. As a perfectionist you likely have trouble recognizing your achievements and feeling proud of yourself since everything could be done better.

To beat imposter syndrome, you should focus on learning to celebrate your successes and truly appreciate how much you accomplish. Likewise, when you make a mistake, remember that mistakes are natural. Accepting that your work will never be truly perfect will free you to start your projects and try new things.

It’s weird though because while I think that I’m predominantly a perfectionist, I’ve always wanted to be good at failing and using those experiences as a learning tool. I even adopted the mantra “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” from The Magic School Bus as my own. Maybe this is a blind spot of mine? Perhaps I am less the perfectionist I thought and more just of a workaholic seeking the validation of others? Mayhaps I shouldn’t be reading so much into this silly online quiz that I googled randomly?

Maybe both types are true and accurate for myself. I do identify with each of the descriptions and can think of lots of examples in my life. I do seek validation and acceptance as well as setting unrealistic expectations for myself and then beat myself up when I don’t meet them. It’s all so complex!! 😫

If you’re wondering about the other imposter types, you can read all about them in this article from The Muse.

But how bad is it, Doctor Internet?

The next test was linked to from a blog post, but the test was gone! But my Wayback Machine browser extension kicked in and showed me the archived test from 2016. This was just a simple little questionnaire that told me I have a moderate amount of imposter syndrome. It had this to say about the matter:

Sometimes you worry that whatever success you have enjoyed was simply the result of being in the right place at the right time, or that people will discover you’re a fraud.

Okay, makes sense. That’s fairly broad, but good to know. It’s here that I want to remind everyone, including myself, that confirmation bias is deffos a thing to be weary of in this little exercise. If you go looking online to see if you have some sort of problem, you’ll probably find your suspicions are confirmed. But I definitely know that imposter syndrome is a major part of my daily life, I just want to use these tests as a way to explore the issue for myself.

The next test said is was “developed to help individuals determine whether or not they have Imposter characteristics and, if so, to what extent they are suffering.” Good to know that I’m suffering!

After I finished answering the long list of questions I was presented with this helpful graphic:

That’s not as much ‘helpful’ as it is ‘scary’. 🧐 At least the colour matches my hair!

Last one, I promise!

The last test I took was quite intensive with its questions; I felt like I was filling out some kind of overly personal marketing survey to earn a gift card! But I pressed on and got another graphic which was less ‘scary’-looking.

You may take pride in some of your achievements, but still struggle to take full ownership of them. Sometimes, in spite of all that you have accomplished and the effort you put into achieving it, you feel like a bit of an imposter. As a result, you may attribute some of your success to factors beyond your control and therefore, feel like you haven’t entirely earned the respect and praise that you were given. You want to believe that you are worthy of success, but can’t fully convince yourself.

Cool. Good to know. I mean, all of our lives’ successes and failures are to some degree attributable to factors outside of our control. Does that mean we don’t deserve the success? Does that mean we didn’t have some part to play in the outcome?

What does all of it mean?

I had a thought yesterday that was the inspiration for this little adventure. It’s popped into my head on occasion but I haven’t given it too much conscious thought in the past. What if my Crohn’s Disease isn’t as bad as I think it is and the symptoms I perceive are there because my mind is rationalizing undesired or otherwise lazy behaviour?

In other words, am I making it all up? Am I just using my Crohn’s as an excuse?

I know that I’m definitely not making it up. My symptoms and physical challenges are all too real and there are tonnes of lab reports that prove it. True I tend to be asymptomatic these days, which is good, but that’s because I’m in remission. It’s not because my Crohn’s is fake or made up. It doesn’t mean my Crohn’s is gone or that I won’t have problems, symptoms, and bad days… it means that I’m in a good place, physically speaking, which is ideal. It’s good!

That all being said, because of the Crohn’s (and probably for various other reasons) there are mental health issues at play. It’s part of the deal. Depression and anxiety are challenges that I face and Crohn’s doesn’t help at all. It makes it hard to do day-to-day tasks or feel motivated to work on projects.

Anyway, the point is that I have imposter syndrome and it affects many parts of my daily thinking. (Like maybe I’m not actually human after all!) It’s not great, but I know it’s a factor so I can manage it to some degree. Plus it’s just the way it is and a part of who I am.

I’m not a Crohn’s imposter.

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