5 Types of Impostor Syndrome

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re “not good enough”?

Fear for being outed as a fraud?

You’re not alone!

Impostor syndrome, also known as fraud syndrome or the impostor experience, is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear they will be exposed as a ‘fraud.’

This is something that I continue to struggle with, but a goal that I have for 2019 is to be kinder to myself.

I have found that by learning about the different types of the syndrome and its tendencies, I will be able to keep myself in check when a few red flags start to pop up.

Here are the 5 types of impostor syndrome.

Photo by  Ylanite Koppens  from  Pexels

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

The Perfectionist

There’s nothing wrong with having high standards when it comes to detail and quality. This is a trait that makes the perfectionists of the world excellent at their craft.

It becomes a problem when the obsession with perfection gets in the way of work. This includes holding themselves to an impossible standard of perfection—which of course, doesn’t exist.

When perfectionists are unable to reach a goal, they experience self-doubt and worry about their ability to measure up to their ideal selves. This feeling of inadequacy leads to the thinking that they shouldn’t be in the profession or craft they’ve chosen.  

Does this sound like you? Here’s some advice on tackling perfectionism:

Get rid of the all-or-nothing mindset. Learn to take mistakes in stride and view them as part of the growing process. You have to learn how to walk before you can run.

The Super Human

These are the people who push themselves to work longer and harder—the first ones in and the last ones out. The ones who go above and beyond the regular, and who are perpetually trying to please everyone (guilty).

Being busy does not equate to being productive. We impostor-workaholics are actually addicted to the validation that comes from working, not the work itself. Those moments when someone comments on how hard we are working, sends endorphins throughout our bodies.

How can we overcome the super human imposter syndrome?

We need to take a step back and assess if we are receiving that validation because the work is good, or because that person wants us to continue breaking our backs for them. No one should have the power to make us feel good about ourselves — We are the only ones who can!

Katy at We Work

The Natural Genius

The natural genius judges their competence based on ease and speed of completing the task, as opposed to their efforts.

When they don’t get it right the first time, quickly, or fluently, alarm bells start to go off in their heads. When you hear those alarm bells, they should be used to motivate us, NOT to tear us down and make us feel unworthy.

Advice for the natural genius?

Remember that when you don’t achieve the impossibly high standards that you set for yourself, you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Everything takes time— and perhaps that is all that you needed to complete that task.

The Soloist

The soloists are the people who feel as though asking for help reveals them as phonies.

It’s okay to be independent but not to the extent that you refuse help. It’s okay not to know everything.  Asking for help when you need it isn’t a sign of weakness.

We grow by learning. People are more willing to mentor and work alongside someone who is honest about their abilities. There’s not a single successful person out there that didn’t get to where they are without a bit of help.

What can help the soloist overcome imposter syndrome?

Remember it’s okay to ask for help. Consider what the outcome would be if you asked for help versus not asking and figure out if it is really worth it.

Kat and Katy at We Work

The Expert

The expert measures their competence based on “what” and “how much” they know or can do. They will never know enough and worry they will be exposed as unknowledgeable.

Building a skill set is terrific, but  endlessly seeking out more information can actually be a form of procrastination.

Imposter syndrome getting the best of an expert?

It’s wonderful to consider yourself a jack of all trades, but if you are not putting those new skills to use,  what good are they?


Here are a few things you can do when feeling the impostor syndrome tugging at you


This word gives some of us PTSD from Uni, but a study done in 1978 proposed various therapeutic techniques to overcome impostor syndrome.

One homework exercise that stuck out for me was to write down all the people —colleagues, clients/customers, bosses— that you have “tricked” or “fooled” and the positive feedback that they have given you.

Consider why you’ve received that feedback, and what about it made you perceive it as negative. Writing the results down on a piece of paper allows you to take them out of your head where it no longer gives you the power to dwell on the past.

Self Care

It’s no secret that taking care of yourself will lead to better mental health overall.

Let's be real, self-care is the fix to most of our emotional problems. We need to take breaks, exercise, meditate, sleep well, eat well. Whatever it is that brings you joy, that is what we need to do to take care of our mental health

None of these are quick fixes for impostor syndrome, but they are the small steps that we can slowly start doing every day to take away its power. To overcome that impostor feeling, we need to acknowledge the thoughts and put them into perspective “does that thought help or hinder me.”

Join an online community.

You are who you surround yourself with! Join a community that offers support and advice when you need it most.

If you’re able to make these connections in person,  GO FOR IT! Not everyone has time to network in person or live in areas where it’s possible to meet like-minded people, so for that, I say to join an online community!

Kat and I are currently creating a private Facebook Group that will help bring people together in a safe supportive environment.  

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, join our email list and we will send an invitation!

Take today as your opportunity to start and embracing your capabilities.

Further Reading: