Fake, Phony, Fraud … Not Us! We’re High-Achieving Women

Fake, Phony, Fraud … Not Us! We’re High-Achieving Women

High-Achieving Women


Why is it that no matter how accomplished some women are they can still feel like frauds?

Despite the apparent equality of the sexes now, many women feel as if they need to work harder and achieve more to keep up with their male counterparts.

And despite their academic achievements, high status and position in the workplace, high-achieving women are still suffering from imposter syndrome.

Much of this may have its roots in our upbringing. To be a high achiever usually means you grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when women were still regarded – although not openly – as, shall we say, not quite the way men are. Perhaps a little too emotional, scatter-brained or off-with-the-fairies.

Many women were told they were the pretty or sociable one in the family and they shouldn’t expect to be clever as well. After all, if you were a beauty you couldn’t be very intelligent. Smart girls were always the plain ones.

To prove this just wasn’t true many women overcompensated with high level education and corporate jobs. Of course, they didn’t do it just to prove a point. They did it because they could and they wanted to.

But, even after all the work, and all the evidence, some women still feel like they’ve fooled everyone and worry they’ll be found out some day.

Common sense would tell you after years of being successful it must be you and not a mistake on someone else’s part – or a series of mistakes – but, unlike men, women have trouble coming to terms with their own excellence.

How do you tell if you or someone you know has imposter syndrome?

If you have it you’ll know, you’ll feel it and stress about it regularly. If someone you know has it, you’ll see the signs such as:

  • Perfectionism – which leads to procrastination because everything has to be just right, and never is.
  • Fear of criticism – another major cause of procrastination.
  • Judging others, and particularly themselves, by very high standards.
  • Always having to prove their value – even when their value is clear to everyone.
  • Thinking they should be able to do it all – and feeling surprised and inadequate when they can’t.
  • Unable to relax until everything is done – we’ve all seen the perfect host who’s too busy to have any fun at her own party.
  • The never-ending to-do list – which is always being added to.
  • Being a people pleaser – putting others first and always trying to gain approval.

High-achieving men can also show the same symptoms but to a much lesser extent. They tend to be more laid back and have more belief in themselves. Another upbringing issue?

Or perhaps they grew up with more expectation of their own merits.

As the next generation of girls grow up and become successful, let’s hope we’ve finally put the less-intelligent-than men myth to rest and these young women can accept the fact that being beautiful and accomplished are not mutually exclusive. They can do and be anything they want, and they never need to feel inferior to anyone.




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