It’s a pesky little devil known as Imposter Syndrome, and it’s time to ditch it.

So, You’ve done pretty damn well for yourself. Taking a quick glance at your resume, that long list of accomplishments, even the size of the community you’ve built online. All signs point towards success. You look good on paper.

Now, wait.

I’ve uttered this exact sentence so many times that I’m sincerely embarrassed to admit it. “On paper, I look good.”

Accomplished. A proven authority. However, there’s this tightness in my chest that hints at an entirely different conclusion. There is a fear that at any given moment someone will point in my direction and out me. Share my shortcomings. Ask how I ever got to this place as I’m obviously completely winging the entire thing. Confirm that I am an absolute fraud.

Are you sitting there reading this silently, nodding your head in agreement? I know right?! In trendy personal development circles, it’s officially referred to as Imposter Syndrome. And, it’s kind of an epidemic among women. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 70% of high achieving women have experienced this epidemic of professional shame. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the incidence is even higher among women in high-level positions in traditional industries, wielding titles traditionally held by a few generations of good ol’ boys.

It’s time we let it go, ladies.

While we could dive down a rabbit hole of reasons, experiences and circumstances that validate this erosion of professional (and, even personal) confidence known as Imposter Syndrome, I think we are all better served by getting over it and owning our success and potential.

To that end, the following are a few strategies you can try to flip the script on yourself and step into your success. Because sister, you’ve earned it.

Step 1

Accept two important truths. (1) What other people think about you is really none of your business. And, (2) they’re probably too busy thinking about themselves, anyway. If you take a moment to realize you’re not truly under a microscope of judgment from the whole world, it’s much easier to let go of the fear that your shortcomings are glaring.

Step 2

Learn to take a compliment like a lady. Don’t deflect. Don’t downplay. You know a sincere compliment when you hear one. The correct response requires only two words, “thank you.”

Step 3

Understand that failure doesn’t make you a fake. Failure is evidence on the road to accomplishment that you are fearless in taking action. A requirement of success, not an indication that it wasn’t deserved.

Step 4

Keep a Raves File. I won’t tell anyone you have one, pinky promise! Keep screenshots of emails, social media shout outs, or anything that provides tangible evidence that you’re doing great work and others noticed. Indulging in a few moments of these little reminders is an excellent way to step away from a potential shame spiral of fraudulence.

Step 5

Ditch the hateration and comparisonitis. It’s so easy to scroll through your Insta feed and start tallying the score. There are those deserving ladies racking up the wins with dazzling brilliance, as well as those that you just can’t understand the attraction. You’re comparing and you’re losing either way. Realize that your own dazzling brilliance and hard work is moving the needle towards success and that for those who are sincerely undeserving, the glamour will wear thin with time. Either way, it’s a distraction.

Step 6

Revel in the success of those you admire. Give a shout out to those women who you see out there crushing it. Chances are, they’re suffering from a little Impostor Syndrome too. (BTW did you question her legitimacy? Didn’t think so!). As the saying goes, you are a reflection of the five people you spend the most time with. So, celebrate yourself being in great company!

Chin up, buttercup, because you now have a clear path to ditch that imposter syndrome for good.  I’m willing to bet good money that you’ve come a long way. That you’ve worked your dream. That there’s nothing fraudulent about you – with the possible exception of the occasional root touch up.


  1. Thea,
    Your advice is so right on. Also accepting a compliment easily has taken me years to let go of deflecting. I read Natalie’s entire post about it in the BossBabe email yesterday.

    I’m going to share your words of wisdom and post on the Girls’ C.E.O. Connection social media Great for the Generation Z high school girls and college women.

    Best, Sylvia Scott
    Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
    Girl’s C.E.O. Connection

    • Sylvia,
      Thank you so much for the comment! Isn’t it crazy that something so simple is so difficult to learn and do? I’m so happy to hear you’re sharing this with young women. Hopefully they can learn these lessons early and surpass us all in their confidence and accomplishments!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! When I started going through this I didn’t even know there was a name for it haha! But it made me feel so much better when I realized it was such a common thing in so many of us. xoxo

    • Thanks so much for this comment! I felt the exact same way when I discovered this is actually a “thing”. There’s something comforting in knowing that there are a lot of us feeling the same way, and it’s totally doable to overcome it.

  3. Guilty! So nice to hear other women talking about this too. The first time I heard about Imposter Syndrome I was living and working in Boston. After work, I snuck my way into an MIT lecture… I was *literally* being an imposter, lol! But for real, Imposter Syndrome is REAL and it’s amazing how I often hear very highly accomplished girlfriends talk with a tone that they really haven’t done much. There’s also a fine line between being an imposter, humility, and modesty. Culture can come into play, too. But I think it’s all about the inner game and building a community that supports each other’s inner game. Thanks, Thea, for sharing this!

    • This is such a great comment, Kay! It just points out how this concept has so many facets – like the impact of culture. I’m just pleased that there is a community like Boss Babe that creates a safe space to further discuss, and support one another through the process of rejecting that imposter feeling and owning our “legitness”!

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