Reckoning with Impostor Syndrome

By Olivia Alexis. Photography By Deun Ivory.

When it comes to success in life, I think many of us have been guilty of (at some point or another) analyzing others and making assumptions about how they came to be so successful. Some people seem like they are easily killing it in life - and they probably are killing it - but most of the time, it does not (or hasn’t always) come as easy as we think.

We often distance ourselves from success because, deep down, we don’t really believe we are capable of achieving it. And as for those who seem to be thriving? We place them on a pedestal far away from us reducing ourselves to this idea that “we’re not like them.”

It’s similar to what happens with famous people – they get so popular that people almost regard them as superhuman.  

The truth of the matter is we are just as powerful and have just as much potential. We just fail to acknowledge it sometimes.

One of the key differences between someone not getting the results they want in life and someone making major progress is the amount of action they take in spite of their fear. Let’s be honest: no one is completely and utterly fearless out here. In fact, in some ways we actually need fear to survive. But it’s what we allow ourselves to accept as being a genuine danger to us that matters.

We overcome fear by taking action, not succumbing to it.

I know just how real impostor syndrome is. Regardless of how great we actually are (which is extremely great by the way) and regardless of the amount of greatness that others may see in us, sometimes we just can’t help but second guess ourselves. And these thoughts can feel all-consuming. 

But just like fear, impostor syndrome is overridden with action.

The overpowering thoughts are going to come, the self-doubt will reappear now and again and fear is going to be right there hanging onto your coattails. But the key is to move forward anyway; to keep going despite the feelings of unworthiness, of not being good enough or qualified enough and of possibly not being taken seriously.  

Every single time we take action, we challenge those thoughts and feelings of fear and doubt. And when we consciously and intentionally keep this up, they begin to quieten and it becomes easier for us to do the things we once could never dream of.

During this process of growth, keep paying attention to your achievements.

If we are searching, we will always find someone who seems to be better than us, more qualified than us and more successful than us. And when we constantly compare ourselves to these people, we tend to conveniently forget about our achievements, our own greatness and just how far we have actually come.

Although impostor syndrome will make more than a few appearances throughout the course of our lives, it need not take over and prevent us from truly recognising our brilliance. Make a point to remember the time when someone reached out to let you know that you helped them in some way. Or the time someone shared a piece of your work they thought was amazing. Or the time you finally reached that one goal that once seemed nothing short of impossible. Keep these memories in a file or a keepsake box if you have to. Understand that you’re most likely doing a lot better than you think and may be giving yourself credit for.

In this one life you have on earth, make a conscious decision to dive into your heart’s desires, embrace your uniqueness and simply create – whatever that looks like for you. You are a unique being and are here for a reason: to take up space and to grace the world with all the gifts you have to offer. Courageously and unapologetically.

It’s time to start living.


Olivia Alexis is a writer and an advocate of self-development, wellness and healing. Founder of Writers Who Heal, Olivia is passionate about using writing as a form of healing and creates safe spaces, through her community, for women to heal using the written word. You can find Olivia and her Writers Who Heal community on Instagram @theoliviaalexis & @writerswhoheal and at oliviaalexis.com and writerswhoheal.com.