Women & Imposter Syndrome


[Rachel Strella]: 0:00

Welcome to episode six of the Light Her Project Podcast, Real Women.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:05

Real talk.

[Rachel Strella]: 0:06

I'm Rachel Strella.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:08

and I'm Vixen Divine.

[Rachel Strella]: 0:10

Thank you so much for tuning in today. Today's topic is imposter syndrome. So for those of you who are not familiar with it, imposter syndrome as defined by the Webster's dictionary is a psychological condition that is characterized by persistent doubt concerning one's abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite evidence of one's ongoing success. We chose this topic for the podcast today because women are more vulnerable to imposter syndrome.

[Vixen Divine]: 0:48


[Rachel Strella]: 0:50

Based on some of the research that we found, the top reasons for feeling like an imposter or experiencing imposter syndrome stem from lack of confidence, comparing ourselves to others.

[Vixen Divine]: 1:02

And we do that a lot.

[Rachel Strella]: 1:04

Yes we do and being a perfectionist. Wow. So to lend even more context to this topic, I want to share with you a few different types of imposters. So this is so prevalent that there is actually an Imposter Syndrome Institute. There is an organization dedicated to this. So this is a real thing. And this organization is the one that came up with these top five, okay, types of imposters. So as I read through this list, think if that sounds like you or anybody you know. Here we go. Number one, the perfectionists. They focus primarily on how something is done. So this includes how work is done and conducted and how it turns out. And one tiny flaw in an otherwise stellar performance or a 99 out of 100 equals failure and thus shame. [Vixen Divine]: Terrible. Yep, number two is the expert. That's the knowledge version of the perfectionist. So the primary concern here is on what and how much you know or can do. So because you expect to know everything, even a minor lack of knowledge, denotes failure and shame.

[Vixen Divine]: 2:26

Which is terrible.

[Rachel Strella]: 2:27

Yes, but it's true. And number three, the soloist. This one cares about who completes the task. So to make it on the achievement list, it has to be you and has to be you alone.

[Vixen Divine]: 2:39

Has to be you, me, me.

[Rachel Strella]: 2:42

That's because you think you need to do and figure it out all on your own. And needing help is a sign of failure that evokes shame. Okay. Number four is a natural genius who, who cares about how and when accomplishments happen. But for you, this competence is actually measured in terms of ease and speed. So it has to come naturally. So the fact that you have to struggle to master a specific skill or subject, or you're not able to bang out a masterpiece on the first try that equals failure, which evokes shame.

[Vixen Divine]: 3:21

Complete failing.

[Rachel Strella]: 3:23

All right, so the final one, number five is the superhuman. This one measures competence based on how many roles that you can play and juggle and excel in. So following short in any role, a manager, a team member, a parent, a partner, a friend, a volunteer, all evoke shame because they feel that they should be able to handle it all perfectly and easily. So, [Vixen Divine]: Everything. those are our five for perfectionist, the expert, the soloist, the natural genius, and the superhuman.

[Vixen Divine]: 3:53

So did any of those sound like you? If they do, leave a message in the comments. We want to know about that. But in all of those that you heard, let me tell you what you didn't hear. There is a definition for actually the imposter, the actual imposter themselves. And this is a definition by the Oxford Languages and Google. And it is actually a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain. So this is a purposeful deception of other people. So that is the difference. You are purposely being basically bad. Whereas in the other ones that Rachel mentioned, this is not a purposeful act. So be mindful of that if you're thinking of, oh, I'm an imposter, you're not, if you're not purposefully deceiving someone. So keep that in mind.

[Rachel Strella]: 4:54

I’m really glad that you brought that up because it is a psychological condition because it is something that's in your head and not real. So let's talk about our personal experiences. We always like to start our podcast out of stuff like that. So, you know, let's talk about if we've experienced it and which of these five types, you know, we may have experienced. So for me, I think I'm a combo of the perfectionist and the expert, but mostly the perfectionist. Everything has got to be perfect by the time it's laid out, whatever I'm doing, by the time I'm like giving it to a client, to a team member, to finishing the housework and folding everything perfectly. I've always been like that. And just like the perfectionist says, that 99 out of 100, I'll focus on that 1% or whatever that is. and it will bother me until I get an idea of how that's perfect.

[Vixen Divine]: 5:50

But you are perfect. I see what you're doing. Like if you, if anyone knows Rachel, jeez, that 1%, I'm telling you would never know. You don't see it at all. It is perfect in these plans that she lays out, the graphics, all of it, it's perfect. But that little flaw that she sees that we don't even know about, mind you, that can really get into your head and under your skin, that little thing, but that's when you, I feel like you need backup. You need someone to tell you and be, feel free to ask someone to tell you, what are you talking about? I don't see it at all. Cause that's what we're gonna say. That's what we're gonna say.

[Rachel Strella]: 6:32

You know, you do need validation. Somebody like me, I need validation at times. And I did psychotherapy for awhile last year. And one of the things that they said about my particular type of anxiety and perfectionism is I will not seek certainty. That is a mantra that I have to always live by. I cannot seek certainty. And that's been a good one for me because I want to be certain it's perfect. Certain everyone's going to love it. Certain it's going to work out. You know, that's definitely me. I would say that the expert part is me because I feel like being a business owner in social media, I need to know everything. It's gotten better over the years. Now that I have a team of people and they are experts in their thing, I could kind of pass that off to them. But I can see how entrepreneurs and high performers could also fall into both of those roles, but also the solos category. And I think women tend to take on that superhuman role by nature.

[Vixen Divine]: 7:31

Well, I think as women though, and I understand how women get more into this than guys, but as women, we often are thrown multiple roles.

[Rachel Strella]: 7:44


[Vixen Divine]: 7:44

You know, whereas, I mean, don't get me wrong, there are some men too, but as a gender specific type of thing, more women than men because, you know, we don't really, a lot of times have a choice. It's just. . . When we have a child, it's that motherly instinct. So we have to take care. We have to make sure they're fed. We have to be that parent. And then we have to talk to them, right? So we have to be their friend. We have to figure out what's going on. Like, there's all these things. And then we have to manage their lives, because guess what? They can't make their own play dates. So there are multiple roles that we naturally are kind of thrown upon us. Aside from then, if we decide to, that work that we're doing at home. If we decide to do outside work, that's another set of, you know, hats there. So the superhuman part, I think, is something that you kind of have to fight off and be conscious of. But some people can juggle it just fine. They don't even realize that they're doing it. In all honesty, but for me, as far as I think, I am kind of more of the expert. I don't actually have that syndrome because I am able to be okay with failure. If something doesn't go right, that doesn't really bother me. I learn to learn from that. But I do chase that needing to know everything. I always say I'm going to know everything before I die. That's my motto. Yeah. Knowing that that's unachievable. However, I think that's why I have. . . so many licenses, state licenses and so many certifications, because I am always learning, always taking a class because I always want to be better for my clients. I always want to know the latest thing. Oh, this can do that. That can do that. Like I will take it and do it over and over again. And I'm obsessed, I guess you could say, with knowing and learning. And so for me, but I understand that I can't be 100%. I can never know everything. And so, but I chase the expert. So that would be the closest for me. I do chase the expert.

[Rachel Strella]: 10:01

You know what I think, you know, you, to my defense on the perfectionist. So I'm going to come to your defense on this for the expert. I think that you're a lover of learning and that is an excellent skill to have. And I don't think that makes you an imposter, uh, as an expert. I really don't. I just think it makes you feel more qualified and it gives you a broader range of capabilities. So I love our learning is the story that I'm going to tell myself to tell you.

[Vixen Divine]: 10:36

Well, then I still stand beside the fact that I think that you're perfect. I just, I don't see, I don't see that flaw that you see. To me it looks, all the things that you do, they look, I can't find a thing wrong with them.

[Rachel Strella]: 10:55

Well, I'm glad it looks that way, because that's how I'm deceiving you.

[Vixen Divine]: 11:01

Okay, you're doing a great job. You're doing a great job. That's how it looks to the world. [Rachel Strella]: Hahaha. To us, folks that don't have the skill that you have for organization, to us it looks flawless. Now to someone else who has the organizational skills, maybe they can, maybe, and that's a maybe, they can see something.

[Rachel Strella]: 11:25

It's funny, I don't feel like that should be a top skill as a business owner. I feel like I should be some super creative genius type, not super organized type, but this is always how I've been built and it's got me this far. So I'll take it. All right. Let's go to questions. All right. So women experience this more than men, which we've talked about a little bit. You know, why is there discrepancy? So I mentioned in the opening that there were three primary reasons. Um, and. I think that for women, this is our nature. The lack of confidence, comparing ourselves to others, perfectionism, they've kind of built in our DNA. And I don't think that social media helps much with that these days, which is something we're gonna talk about shortly.

[Vixen Divine]: 12:13

Well, I always think though, I think our culture has to do with it too. As far as the way that women are experiencing this more than men, women seem to have to prove themselves. And just not even in our United States culture, but in all cultures around the world, rarely do you see it as just expected or accepted that. . . a woman is has the confidence or is capable for that matter. Usually she has to prove what she can do. So she gets pushed back. She has to know to get that acceptance. I know I found this. You have to know twice as much as the other guy to get respected as, oh, she is the expert. Oh, well, okay. She does know that. She has to be right on, spot on, and undeniably, not even close, undeniably correct.

[Rachel Strella]: 13:17

Hmm. Yeah. I agree with you. And I think that even though we as women understand this, there's this inherent trait that we feel other women also need to live up to that.

[Vixen Divine]: 13:29

Yes, we are. Ooh, women are catty on each other. Ooh, that's another thing we gonna talk about later, girl.

[Rachel Strella]: 13:40

Well, let's talk about social media. How has this influenced imposter syndrome? So one thing that we should note is that not only is imposter syndrome more prevalent for women, it's also prevalent for younger people. And a lot of that has to do with connectivity and social media. I think on social media, we tend to present our best selves, you know, and that naturally will lead to comparison. We're looking at everybody else's perfect life. And that representation is not accurate. It's what we're telling the people in our circle, whoever, this is our life. We create this illusion of perfection and success. And I think that can make others feel insecure. For me, I've always believed in being positive on social media. I didn't get on there just to bitch about things. I've always believed in being positive. And, you know, so like with what we're discussing today, I could see how constant positivity creates an illusion of having a perfect life, but it couldn't be farther from the truth for me.

[Vixen Divine]: 14:49

Well, I see what you're saying as far as you always see the, I always say the glamorous part of life on social media. Yes and no. I see people who are always posting everything. I swear if they could, they post, I'm going to the bathroom now. Yes, I just got done. I'm going to cook dinner now. Yes. They post everything. So [Rachel Strella]: Yeah. there are people who post the good, the bad, the stuff that we don't wanna hear about. And there are those, but I know who you're talking about, about the perfect life, the only the good things being posted. And I understand that people do compare themselves to that and why don't I have and can I get more of and she gets on my nerves. So then you get judged.

[Rachel Strella]: 15:40


[Vixen Divine]: 15:41

So she got that perfect life. Now you're judged. Now you don't need anything because, you know, what do you need anything for? You got this perfect life. But connectivity for the young people, young people never learned to connect to begin with. They did not have, okay, there is a level, I shouldn't say that, there is a level of connectivity, but they don't have the level that my age, your age, had because we didn't have those electronics at our fingers. We had to go outside. We had to talk to people.

[Rachel Strella]: 16:24

Imagine. [Vixen Divine]: Craziness. You're absolutely right. You know, I guess what those others couldn't hide behind something on a screen. They were real. They couldn't get any more real than someone being right in front of you.

[Vixen Divine]: 16:37

Exactly, exactly. And if you didn't like somebody, you told them to their face None of this because you say I swear you hide behind that computer little screen, you know, or cell phone screen. I swear some of the things that people say, I don't know that they would say that if they were looking at you.

[Rachel Strella]: 16:57

So true. This is so true, but it makes a lot of sense. So I mean, I read a lot of stories about younger women and even girls, you know, who have this, this feeling of this body image issue because all these people are posting these things and they look so great. Wonderful. You know, we've talked about body image before, but we're not going to show our big fat sloppy belly, you know, we're gonna, we're gonna show. We’re gonna tuck that in, puff out the chest. You know, we're gonna be perfect, you know, and this is an unrealistic expectation, you know, and it's been like that in media as long as I can remember. But because social media is prevalent for everybody now, you know, it has taken a bigger toll, you know.

[Vixen Divine]: 17:39

Yeah, I think so. But now in social media and on the internet as a whole, we can see not only ourselves and our community, but we can see the community across the world. And we can see the community across the seas. And we can see how other people live. So there's more people to compare yourself with as opposed to just your community, the people around you or in your neighborhood or that sort of thing. So. That's a problem too, because other countries have different lifestyles, they're eating different things. So they just have, like an Asian woman, generally speaking, has a smaller build. They eat differently, they live differently. But an Asian woman, let's take a Geisha girl, for instance, you know, that is beauty, that is beautiful. But that, if you're an American woman, and you think that is beautiful and you're looking at her build and you're looking at an American woman build, that is unattainable, generally for the most part. So you have more now that's bombarded at you than you normally would just looking at the kids you grew up with or around the corner or in the neighborhood.

[Rachel Strella]: 18:53

This is a really good point. I remember talking about this before. Remember our map? We only have our map, you know, and I don't know that younger people, it depends on the generation and their upbringing, but they may not be exposed to other cultures on social media. They may, they may not be, but if it could put that stuff into perspective and make their map a little bit wider, you know, I think it would help for them to appreciate that everybody has a different body, different culture, different lifestyle, different idea of beauty.

[Vixen Divine]: 19:26

and understand that it is an idea of beauty, not just beauty. [Rachel Strella]: One size fits all. You've got to be this big. Yeah, exactly.

[Rachel Strella]: 19:38

Well, [Vixen Divine]: Go ahead. let's talk about how we overcome imposter syndrome, you know? And I'm somebody who I'll admit, you know, I face it anytime I have a new project that I set out on, like being a podcaster, I'm like, I don't know how I'm going to be able to do this well, you know? Um, so here's the things that I think will help. And for me, particularly seeking support and mentorship, you know, of other women, other people, whatever it is I'm trying to set out to do. If they're supportive, you know, and you have sort of that, that positive people that are going to back you with what you're doing. That helps so much. It's just that kind of reinforcement that you've got this. I think it's also really important to think about what's real and what's imaginary, you know, social media is not always real, it's a depiction and it's a perceived reality, not reality.

[Vixen Divine]: 20:36

Well, you have to also know who your friends are. Not frenemies, but friends. People who are going to back you up, not the person with the snide remark in the corner. That's really not a friend. That is a person with a snide remark. So you have to be able to distinguish who those people are. And you have to understand not everyone is going to back you up. Not everyone is going to go where you go. And sometimes you have to let some people go. You gotta let them go, they gotta wait to decide and they're not, they're gonna try to make you feel guilty about it sometimes, but you gotta, you know, you have to understand that everyone can't rise with you. Now, as far as how to overcome, there are ways. There's also self-care, self-care can help you because it's a mental, remember we talked about it's a mental state. So if you can bring yourself into a positive state, even if it's for 15 minutes a day, you know, just a little time, just a little corner in your apartment, your house, wherever that is completely yours, that will help you so much to stop your worrying, to stop worrying about other people and get off social media so much.

[Rachel Strella]: 21:56


[Vixen Divine]: 21:56

My goodness, people, we don't have to be on there all the time. And you don't have to respond to your email 24/7. So if you put time limits on yourself or cutoff points, that will actually help your state of mind and be able to bring yourself down, stop worrying about being an imposter or not.

[Rachel Strella]: 22:16

I really like your tip about, you know, getting rid of the negativities. And I mean, what you really described is trolling. There are people in your own community who are looking for you to fail. That's just reality. Um, and if, if you start to sense that or that negativity, I just, I know for me, I just cut them out. I don't have time for them. Not responding to it. Uh, just go. They, if you're not going to be supportive, go away. Um. I also think that I like mantras, like I have a whole series of them and I use a different one each day that helped me and it kind of frames my day, you know, like today it's everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that could happen to me and that's from a Zen book, but it just helps me because there's always stuff that comes up during the day and it just sucks. But instead of like letting it ruin your day, you know, it's like this is going to work out for my benefit somewhere. So I do think there's something effort and something to be said for that, you know, that personal positivity that you could give yourself as well.

[Vixen Divine]: 23:20

Personal positivity is a great thing. And the fact that it is personal and it can be made just for yourself. Like you talked about mantras, I think that's a good idea because for one day, for that one mantra for you, you're the one who made that specifically for you. Yeah, it might fit someone else's life that day, but you don't know that person, don't worry about that. You just need to worry about you. So if you just worry about you and you have that one positive thing that you can think of all day. That'll help get you through the day.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:51


[Vixen Divine]: 23:52

I agree with you.

[Rachel Strella]: 23:54

Well, let's talk about what we’re seeing This whole imposter syndrome thing, this isn't just women. It's not just younger people. It is also celebrities. So some of the most famous celebrities, there are men in this list as well. And the men are Tom Hanks and David Bowie, which Tom Hanks, that one blew my mind. But for reference, there are men in this. So as far as the women go, we have a great variety. So we have Serena Williams, who's an athlete, Tina Fey, who is an actress. We have Lady Gaga, who's well, singer, actress, a whole bunch of different things. And then Emma Watson, who is also an actress. So all of these people also suffer from imposter syndrome. And these are just some of the ones that we know about that are very vocal about it. And I don't know about you, but basically all of them really surprised me because I would not have ever thought that they had any type of insecurity or self doubt.

[Vixen Divine]: 24:59

Lady Gaga doesn't surprise me because I do know her backstory and her parents just were not necessarily nice. I'll put it that way. But Serena Williams does surprise me in the respect where her parents were really, they really backed them. They really pushed those two, the sisters there, they really pushed them. But they did have a lot to prove. Even getting on the tennis court because of where they were from and what color they were. They did their backstory also. They did have a lot to prove. So they kind of had to be, you know, what they say, fake it till you make it. And they really had a lot to prove. So, but Tina Fey and Emma Watson, I don't know their stories, but in Hollywood is in general, there's a lot of fake it till you make it.

[Rachel Strella]: 25:50

Yeah. I mean, I, you've heard the term fake it till you make it, you know, which is a pretty common term for anybody who's trying to make a name for themselves, whether it's they're starting a new job or career, they're celebrity, whatever it is, or in a new role in life, like, fake it till you make it, you know, is kind of the

[Vixen Divine]: 26:12


[Rachel Strella]: 26:13

the theme. So, you know, but I, I applaud all these people who are open to admitting that, yeah, this is not something that they did without having any self doubt at all. You know, they, they struggled and I, I think that I give people a lot of credit who are able to be real and open up about that.

[Vixen Divine]: 26:32

It is something I feel like sometimes when they get into a famous place, then they feel like they can help somebody. They're in a place where people will listen to them. They're in a higher platform now. So they're wanting to help other people, which I thought was really nice. And I've seen that happen with a couple of celebrities in some syndromes or some diseases or something that they're dealing with. They then start to use their platform to help other people and to make it okay to speak whatever's happening to you, which I think is honorable actually. [Rachel Strella]: You're absolutely right. I'm really glad you mentioned that. I really am

[Rachel Strella]: 27:10

because they, when they're coming out of this whole thing, you're starting out, they might not have had that confidence level or an audience, you know, once they found they were able to overcome these things and they were still able to be successful, it gave them an opportunity to speak out, you know

[Vixen Divine]: 27:27

Right, I think it's one of those, now, if I can do it, then you can do it, like that type of thing. But they almost had to get through it and still be in the platform that they are to be able to say, well, you know, I'm doing all of this, so you can do it in your life.

[Rachel Strella]: 27:44

Yes. Yep. I agree. All right. One more thing that we're seeing. I am a huge Adam Grant fan and I follow him on Instagram, Threads, you know, everywhere. And he had a thread the other day. Um, and here's what it said. Imposter syndrome, quote, I don't know what I'm doing. It's only a matter of time till everyone finds out unquote growth mindset, quote, I don't know what I'm doing yet. It's only a matter of time until I figure it out. Unquote. And then he says the highest form of self-confidence is believing in your ability to learn. Love that.

[Vixen Divine]: 28:20

Okay, I have to agree with him on that. If you don't believe it, it's never gonna happen. Actually, if you have the ability or not, honestly, you can have, give me an example, Beyonce. I think everybody knows who Beyonce is. Beyonce actually was a very shy person. And the person who kind of discovered her, well, kind of told her parents, hey, this girl can sing. No, no, really, this girl can sing. Like there was a woman who noticed and told her parents and then started giving her some lessons, but she didn't believe it. She was very, very shy. She was introverted almost. That's why I think she has an alter ego, Sasha Fierce. But. . . If she didn't believe it and she would be very meek about it and she didn't have her parents to push her other people, we would not have Beyonce as we know it.

[Rachel Strella]: 29:24

Yeah, yes which is why it's so important to have a supportive tribe of people around you because they're going to bring out talent in you that you may not even know you have.

[Vixen Divine]: 29:34

Exactly, exactly.

[Rachel Strella]: 29:36

But I agree that, you know, Vixen, the highest form of self-confidence is believing in your ability to learn. So we would go back to you saying, um, you're the expert, uh, that that's like your imposter thing. I go back to what I said, you are a lover of learning. And so you've already nailed the self-confidence thing, which we all knew you, you've already had, but it's so important that you do believe in yourself.

[Vixen Divine]: 30:01

It's tough sometimes, occasionally, very occasionally. But you know what? I do have people that surround me that are good people and I keep that list very short on who I interact with and who I spend time with and that sort of thing. And I think everyone should keep their list pretty short because the people that are further back on the list are probably not necessarily on your side. They have other things to do. You're not their priority.

[Rachel Strella]: 30:33

No, I agree. I mean, it's a common saying that if you count your friends, you know, close friends on one hand, you know, you, you're set, I don't need 5,000 friends. I mean, I might have that many people connected online, but it doesn't mean they're in my circle, you know? So, [Vixen Divine]: Right. so important that you have those people that are going to support you and be there for you and truly have your back and you can do the same.

[Vixen Divine]: 30:59

Yeah, you can know people without them being in your inner circle.

[Rachel Strella]: 31:03


[Vixen Divine]: 31:04

Not saying cut everyone off, it's just you just know who you need to talk to on those things that are closest to you. That doesn't need to be everyone.

[Rachel Strella]: 31:13

Exactly. Let that be a lesson for social media. All right, well, we're coming to the end of the podcast. Vixen, is there anything else that you would like to add about this topic?

[Vixen Divine]: 31:27

You know what? I think that it's a pretty well-rounded topic. I think everyone can benefit from what we said, as long as you can distinguish who your friends are, who's backing you, and understand that if you have some talent or you have potential to have talent, chase after it and let someone tell you, you can do it. If no one tells you, you very well might quit and you will never be the next Beyonce of your field.

[Rachel Strella]: 31:59

Mm. Love it. I think that I want to clarify, you know, when I made a statement about negativity, you know, and not having negativity online, there's a difference between negativity and, you know, having a healthy conflict or healthy argument. You know, I'm always forgetting other people's feedback and opinion. It's so important to get that perspective. It's the inherent negativity that is a little bit different for me. You know, if you're just looking to troll, or find any opportunity to slam me, that's different. If you respectfully disagree and have a different opinion, I think that that's okay. And I think that's healthy. But I just wanted to clarify that because I didn't want people to think that, hey, if you say anything that I don't like, you're gone. Um, you know, it's just gotta be productive.

[Vixen Divine]: 32:46

Right, no, I get that. Definitely, the troll is different than someone who says, Uhh maybe, maybe these glasses are not the best for you. And that's okay, as opposed to, oh crap, those glasses, what the frick were you thinking?

[Rachel Strella]: 33:09

All right, well, I want to thank everybody for tuning in to the Light Her Project podcast, you could follow our conversation online using the hashtag. So keep it real, real women.

[Vixen Divine]: 33:20

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