Feel Like A Fraud? Conquer Impostor Syndrome By 'Earning It Backwards'

"Maybe it *was* a fluke. In which case, now that you have it, do whatever it takes until you *do* deserve it."

Despite putting in the effort necessary to accomplish their goals, many people still feel like frauds when rewarded for their achievements. Known as "impostor syndrome," countless individuals believe they're making it even though they're faking it. But Twitter user Sarah Kay (@kaysarahsera) took to social media to share advice from the New York Times bestselling author Cristin O'Keefe-Aptowicz (@coaptowicz) that might help these so-called "impostors" break free from the limits inflicted by their own doubts.

According to Scientific American, impostor syndrome "is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence, despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It strikes smart, successful individuals. It often rears its head after an especially notable accomplishment, like admission to a prestigious university, public acclaim, winning an award, or earning a promotion."

Mental Floss adds that impostor syndrome, a term first coined by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, refers to those who "maintain a strong belief that they are not intelligent; in fact they are convinced that they have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise." Yet, while negative self-talk, self-doubt, and the "fear of being found out as phony" are the most common symptoms, Kay's tweets add a twist to the typical perspective, encouraging people to take the positive approach.


"Earn it backwards," as Kay explains, empowers the individual to embrace their opportunity in spite of their doubts and, instead, use this chance to lift up others who are struggling to succeed.

"It's helped me so much," Kay added. "Anytime something good comes my way, if the voice in my head says, "you don't deserve this," I dedicate myself to earning it backwards. It pushes me to get better [and] do better by others, [and] eventually I'm too busy working hard [and] paying it forward to worry."

O'Keefe-Aptowicz retweeted Kay's thread, adding that "this philosophy is helpful when your brain gets stuck, despite logic โ€”a way to change the conversation [with] yourself, so you can get on to living that great life you've earned."

Kay's fellow Twitter users were instantly inspired by this advice, noting that, despite not feeling worthy, they've also grabbed opportunities in the past and held on tight until they truly earned the chance they'd been given.

While self-doubt can be crippling at times, it's possible to turn this nagging internal monologue into an opportunity to embrace positivity and spread positivity in return. It's all about perspective. Ultimately, you deserve the praise and rewards that accompany your accomplishments and you should use this time to look back on all you've done to reach the given milestone because yes -- you deserve it.

Cover image via Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock


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