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What is Imposter Syndrome? It is the idea you believe your success is due to luck, not because of your expertise. Typically, people with such a syndrome fear others will eventually find out they have been faking.

In 2020, the term imposter syndrome was searched twice as much as it was in 2019, yielding over 5,480,000 search results on Google. Research has also shown that 70% of people have felt like an imposter at some point in their lives.

The prevalence of imposter syndrome has sparked public attention, and resources addressing this issue have flooded the Internet. For example, TV shows feature psychologists to share tips on how to combat the syndrome. Media spread alarmist articles on how serious the syndrome is, hoping to catch the eyeballs of those who are worried.

Yet, psychological issues are complicated and often ingrained in ourselves. While psychological knowledge could foster change to a certain degree, it does have its limitations. Sometimes, unique inputs are needed to reach the threshold of change.

Aside from psychological knowledge, wisdom from outside fields often ignites a different pathway to change. In this case of Imposter Syndrome, instead of applying psychological knowledge (you can easily find credible resources online) to deal with your inner critic, you can twist things a little.

Learn math. By doing so, you will realize success is a result of luck.

Yes, successful people are lucky.

“Do you mean successful people are all imposters?”

Well, time to do some math! Don’t freak out, no calculation is needed. By understanding how this works, you will realize it is simpler than you think.

While this radical thought may be confusing, let us look at the life of a self-proclaimed imposter, Annie, who is the pioneer in the biochemical industry. Later, we will explore how this is all about math:

Annie was born into a strict family that focuses on academic success. She had always been on top of her class throughout her education. Although she has participated in several ground-breaking studies and saved people’s lives by developing new drugs, she has never felt comfortable with her achievements. She spoke about not feeling qualified for what she is doing, and she also fears her colleagues will find out her shortcomings. In other words, Annie thinks she is lucky, so that she became successful, albeit having 10 years of experience in the industry.

By saying math, it is about probability.

Luck entails the probability that something may happen. In Annie’s case, the choices (choices are underlined below) she made in her life increased the probability/ luck in becoming successful.

How? Let’s break this down:

To stay on top of her class, Annie studied during lunchtime instead of chatting with friends.

  • Chances that Annie got admitted to reputable colleges increased

Annie went to a good college and attended symposiums to talked about her research.

  • Chances that someone saw her potentials increased

Annie worked on her dream project under the supervision of a professor she met at the symposium.

  • Chances that she could get a job right after graduation increased

Due to Annie’s diligence, she received a well-written recommendation letter from her professor.

  • Chances that she secured the job position increased

Annie was hired by her dream company, and she was not afraid of throwing new ideas.

  • Chances that she became the leader of the company increased.

From the breakdown above, we can see that every choice she made increased her chances of becoming who she is.

Now, Annie is a well-known figure in the pharmaceutical industry. She has given speeches at multiple events and inspired people who have ambitions. Annie, however, still feels not enough for the success she has.

Even if Annie has so much luck, she earns it. The choices she made in the past led to higher probability that she would succeed.

Luck does not just come out of nowhere. It comes from every choice you make to be a better you.

Yes, you are lucky, and you deserve it.

About the author  Ko Huai-Che, BS  is an intern therapist with Pacific Mental Health Seattle. As a bi-lingual therapist, he is able to use both Mandarin Chinese  and English to treat patients. Ko helps people explore ways to resolve their issues through insights into their life experiences with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychodynamic approach.  He believes strength will emerge when people overcome crisis in their lives.

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