Does any of this sound like you? As a gifted adult, the answers to these quiz questions may reveal something about you that you really should know.
Answer yes or no:
Yes or No
- Do you secretly worry that others will find out that you’re not as bright and capable as they think you are?
- Do you sometimes shy away from challenges because of nagging self-doubt?
- Do you tend to chalk your accomplishments up to being a “fluke,” “no big deal” or the fact that people just “like” you?
- Do you hate making a mistake, being less than fully prepared or not doing things perfectly?
- Do you tend to feel crushed by even constructive criticism, seeing it as evidence of your “ineptness?”
- When you do succeed, do you think, “Phew, I fooled ’em this time but I may not be so lucky next time.”
- Do you believe that other people (students, colleagues, competitors) are smarter and more capable than you are?
- Do you live in fear of being found out, discovered, unmasked?
If you answered yes to any of these questions — join the club!
You may be experiencing something called Impostor Syndrome. It basically means that you have a difficult time recognizing and acknowledging your successes and accomplishments.
As a gifted adult with high personal and societal expectations, Impostor Syndrome, or at least something that has the same basic characteristics, is very common.
From the outside where other people stand it looks as though we’ve done many great things – we’ve gotten degrees, we’ve helped people on a big scale, we’ve made changes to our homes or environments that are beneficial and easily recognizable, we’ve found success in places other people haven’t. But from the inside where we stand it looks, and feels, like we haven’t done anything that anyone else couldn’t have done.
We are always quick to note other people’s achievements and slow, or neglectful, to recognize our own.
Perhaps we really don’t see what we do, or perhaps we don’t want to feel like we’re too proud or conceited by showing off what we’ve done, or maybe there’s just so much of a gap between what we are doing and what we think we should be doing that is truly feels like we haven’t done anything great.
Whatever the reason, the lack of personal recognition works against us in the long run. On our resumes we don’t know what to write; during our interviews we can’t think of anything positive we’ve done; when we look back at our lives we feel like we’ve wasted all of our time because we can’t see anything, or very little, that’s actually been good.
So what can we do?
Start by writing down everything you can think of that you’ve studied, learned about, experienced, helped with, or done so far in your life. Set yourself a limit of 7-10 minutes where you absolutely have to write something. Don’t allow yourself to stop writing until at least the 7-minute mark. Include anything and everything that comes to mind and don’t edit your thoughts while you write. Just let everything tumble out through your fingers. This list is only for your own reference for now, so don’t worry about what’s on the paper or computer screen.
When you’ve finished, gather a few close family members or friends and have them share your successes with you as well. Let them tell you from their perspectives some of the things you’ve done. (Remember, they won’t know all of them because they only experience you in one part of their lives, so don’t feel bad if each person’s list isn’t tremendously long.)
Take all of these points and put them away for safe keeping. Every once in a while, like every month or so, write your new experiences down and add them to your list. Keep this as current as possible.
Any time you start to feel like you’re pretending to be something that you’re not, or that you’re not deserving of recognition, or that you really haven’t done anything great in your life, take out your list and review it. Not to pat yourself on the back, but just to remind yourself that you are a valuable person and you have done something positive in the world you live in.
(Quiz content was written by Dr. Valerie Young)