Extracted from Ditch Your Inner Imposter by Anna Lou Walker and PSYCOM has a quiz for you!
Dr Valerie Young, co-founder of the Imposter Syndrome Institute, categorized people who experience imposter syndrome into five main groups.
According to Dr Young, the five kinds of imposter syndrome personalities are:
1. The perfectionist
2. The natural genius
3. The rugged individualist
4. The expert
5. The superhero
Type 1: The Perfectionist
Perfectionism is often listed as a key indicator of imposter syndrome, so it’s common that people who experience one also experience the other. In her book, Dr. Valerie Young explains that perfectionists typically set very high expectations for themselves and that even if they meet 99% of those goals, a small loss will feel like a large failure. When mistakes happen, perfectionists question their core competence, which can easily translate to feelings of imposter syndrome.
Type 2: The Natural Genius
The “natural genius” has been top of the class for as long as they can remember, and in their school days, success came relatively easily. As they grow and mature, however, they are bound to encounter scenarios where achievement doesn’t present itself as second nature, and hard work or struggle is required for their desired results. As they aren’t used to this, natural geniuses tend to suffer from imposter syndrome, feeling that the struggle to meet their goals is a sign that they lack ability and aren’t “good enough.”
Type 3: The Rugged Individualist
Does asking for help trigger your imposter syndrome? Do you struggle to see something as a success unless you have achieved it by yourself? You’re most likely a “rugged individualist”. These kinds of “imposters” struggle to reach out when they need assistance, as they feel getting help with a task invalidates their contribution or shows that their own skillset is in some way lacking.
Knowing when to ask for help is a vital skill, not only in work but in life too. Asking for help is never a weakness – in fact, knowing ourselves well enough to understand when help is required can be one of our greatest strengths. It’s far more efficient, after all, to ask for help with a task than it is to spend twice as long struggling through by ourselves.
Type 4: The Expert
If you’re an “expert” type, you probably prefer to spend time researching and gathering as much information as possible before you start a new project. You like to come into something new from a position of knowledge and expertise, and you probably regularly spend time looking for ways to improve your skillset or undergo extra training. However, this drive to become an “expert” can trigger imposter syndrome, holding you back from applying for jobs if you don’t meet all the criteria in the description, or preventing you from speaking up in a seminar because you’re afraid that your answer won’t be perfectly informed.
Type 5: The Superhero
“Superheroes” push themselves to work harder than everyone around them to prove that they’re not imposters. Their expectations for themselves are higher than their expectations of others, and they feel a sometimes overwhelming need to succeed in every element of their life – at work and at home. Their feelings of imposter syndrome will be triggered when one of these areas is not as strong as another. Working harder than others to prove your worthiness, or to cover up feelings of impostor syndrome, can quickly lead to burnout, and be detrimental to your mental health.
Do you relate to any of these personality traits? Let us know in the comments below.
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