Bif Notes No. 20 Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is something that seems to be pretty common, particularly among Millenials. It’s as if there’s always a small sense that everything you do right is a fluke, all of your accomplishments are undeserved and that at any moment someone is going to find out and label you a fraud. I know I’ve felt on several occasions that I didn’t deserve something that I’d worked for, wasn’t good enough, couldn’t live up to my peers, etc. This was especially true of my college career.

This phenomenon gains even more complexity if you are a disabled person experiencing Imposter Syndrome. Not only are achievements called into question, the worry becomes that you were possibly given a pass based on disability. Every accolade seems potentially tinged with pity and charity. Some may find themselves doubting their skills and abilities.

There is also the flip side of things. Meaning, a person becomes worried about being perceived as being either too disabled and not disabled enough. Too disabled and they may be passed over or not even considered for a job or some other coveted placement, not disabled enough and they could be labeled a fake and lose out on assistance and resources that they need. It is this take on Imposter Syndrome that individuals fear could have very real consequences.

This can result in a self-policing of sorts. Conversations and actions are carefully managed so as to only show and tell exactly what is intended. Fear of being called out results in constant vigilance. This continuous vigilance can take as much of a toll on a person as their actual disability. There are circumstances where the ability to do this is beneficial however. In the case of applying for government assistance for instance, being able to accurately and thoroughly explain your disability and how it affects your life could be the difference between approval or rejection.

Regardless of how and to what extent Imposter Syndrome affects a person’s life, it is important to recognize the effects it may be having. It is also important to realize that feelings of fraudulence and unworthiness are unfounded. You know yourself. You know what you are capable of. Own that and all the good that comes with it.

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