The 5 types of ImposterAug 23, 2021
Imposter syndrome is that feeling inside that you're a total fraud, and you're going to be 'found out'. You can read more about what imposter syndrome is here. When we talk about imposter syndrome, we often think we either have it, or don't have it (research shows that 70% of people will get imposter syndrome at some stage in their career, by the way). But it's more nuanced than that. There are actually 5 types of imposter: Perfectionist; Soloist; Natural Genius; Expert; Superhuman. I'll go into those types in more detail below. If you want to know more about which type you are, you can take the quiz here.
These 5 types are from Dr. Valerie Young's book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It (Random House)
The perfectionist is the type of imposter who doesn't accept mistakes. They set extraordinarily high standards for themselves (and for others!). If they make a mistake or other type of 'failure' they feel like a fraud. In order to prevent themselves from being exposed as a fraud, they engage in over-planning, over-preparing, and over-thinking.
The soloist imposter type likes to do things alone. They believe that if they get help then their successes and accomplishments are not their own. They refuse to ask for help, but interestingly, they also refuse help when it is offered to them.
The natural genius imposter type is someone for whom everything has always come very easily. This is someone who was perhaps very high performer in school, without really trying. Or had some early career success. They believe that things should be effortless, and come easily to them. If they don't, they feel like a fraud. For this reason, they are often reluctant to try new things.
The expert imposter type, ironically, doesn't like to be referred to as an 'expert'. To them, expert implies that they have all the answers, that they have reached a level where they know everything there is to know. If they are asked a question and they don't have the answer, they feel like a fraud. You'll find them constantly doing just 'one more course' or qualification.
I have also seen this type referred to as the superhero or superwoman imposter type. The superhuman imposter type wants to be good at EVERYTHING. It's not enough to be good in one area of your life - they want to be the perfect employee, manager, friend, partner, child, parent... If they're not successful at everything, they feel like a fraud.
Which type of imposter are you?
Having read the above types, which one(s) resonate most with you? Typically people relate to more than just one imposter type. For me, the perfectionist and soloist resonate most - something I have learned about and am working on! If you want to know more about which type you are, you can take the quiz here.
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