The impostor syndrome is the feeling that you are not a smart, talented, or skilled as everyone around you thinks you are and you are about to exposed as a fraud.
Michelle Obama has been making the news by revealing that she still has a little bit of the impostor syndrome. She described it as “feeling like I don’t belong.”
We see this often in Hollywood where young stars have worked hard to get to the A-list only to discover that their self-image makes them feel like they don’t deserve to be there. That’s when they turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the feelings.
In the case of Michelle Obama, other than graduating Princeton, her only noteworthy accomplishment was marrying a local community organizer who surprised everyone by getting elected president. It would be natural for anyone in that situation to feel they may be in over their head. Unlike the Hollywood crowd, she fell into a high profile lifestyle. It wasn’t something she had planned on, which can greatly amplify self-doubt that is the impostor syndrome.
It wasn’t the fact that she was thrust into the limelight, but she had some people in positions of power and influence who told her that she was not good enough.
At Princeton, she was told by a counselor that she was, “not Princeton material.” “She says, “I still remember that feeling of doubt, that feeling of another adult placing a barrier on me that I didn’t even have for myself,” she said. “The person whose job it was to help young people reach their dreams, she saw me and whatever she saw in me told me that my dreams were too high.”
In a speech to a group of students in London, she says she still struggles with impostor syndrome today. “It never goes away,” she said. “It’s sort of like ‘you’re actually listening to me?’ It doesn’t go away, that feeling of ‘I don’t know if the world should take me seriously; I’m just Michelle Robinson, that little girl on the south side who went to public school’…
“It takes time and maturity and successes under your belt to realize that you’re good enough.”