Maria Keenan

How Successful Do You Have to Be Before Imposter Syndrome Goes Away?

I'm scared of you.

I'm scared that there's a conversation going on about how my writing is purposeless, and that what I'm saying has been said 1000 times over by 1000 people 1000 times smarter than me.

But I still write.

I stare the ghost in the face every day, and it's the only way I can get it to stop. Because there's no one talking about me being fake, or untalented, or any other manner of degrading bullshit.

But it doesn't completely get rid of the feeling that there maybe just might be.

I asked people who I know are successful to tell me what they know about coping with feeling like an imposter because talking to clever people is the bones of how we become cleverer ourselves.

And here's what they said:

1) Tobias van Schneider

"The funny thing is that the more successful and experienced you become, the more you feel like a fraud. The stakes are higher, and the expectations greater. More people are looking at you and some don't want you to succeed.

So, basically, we're all fucked. Whether we're faking it 'til we make it or we've already made it. But that's freeing. If we're all frauds, then none of us are. All you can do is keep working and stop comparing yourself to others. And remember that sometimes a little self-doubt is healthy. It pushes you to be better."

Tobias von Schneider.jpg

Tobias van Schneider has been honoured with the title of Net Magazine Designer of the Year and Awwwards Art Director of the Year. He's the co-founder of Semplice, a portfolio system by designers, for designers. 

2) Dr. Valerie Young

"People who don't feel like imposters are no more intelligent or capable than the rest of us. The only difference between them and us is they think different thoughts. this means that all we have to do is learn to think like non-imposters.

Start by becoming consciously aware of your own imposter self-talk. Then pause and "reframe" that internal conversation the way a non-imposter would. Instead of responding to a huge new assignment with, 'Yikes! I have no idea what I'm doing!" instead think, "Wow, I'm really going to learn a lot.'"

Or, rather than being crushed by constructive criticism, take it for the gift it is — an opportunity to improve. Respond to compliments with, "Thank you. What's one thing I could have done even better?"

What you want is to stop feeling like an imposter. But the feelings are the last to change. If you want to stop feeling like an imposter, you have to stop thinking like an imposter."

Valerie Young.jpg

Dr. Valerie Young literally wrote the book on imposter syndrome and is an internationally-known expert in the field. She holds a EdD in social justice and focused her doctoral thesis and research on internal barriers preventing the acceleration of women's achievement.  

3) Will Mitchell

The best way to overcome impostor syndrome is to keep taking action. Impostor syndrome can only exist when you're not 'in the zone' - it's born out of overthinking. So stop thinking and start doing. Find a way to get into your work, and that will force you out of your head and into the world.


Will Mitchell helps entrepreneurs to launch and scale their businesses as co-founder of StartUp Bros. He and his co-founder have been featured in The New York Times, Time, Bloomberg, and Reuters as a result of their efforts. 

4) Thais Sky

"Having been coaching women for over six years and doing my own inner work for over ten, I have had my fair share of ambitious, driven women coming to me admitting that they fell like a fake. They're terrified they are going to be discovered as a fraud.

What I have found to be true is that the answer to most things in our psychology is that judging, pushing away, or belittling these complex inner dialogues not only does not fix the problem, it exacerbates our self-loathing.

There are many reasons why we might feel like an imposter, and getting to the root, similar to weeding, is imperative to its removal. Getting curious, hiring support, and noticing when you are in the throes of imposter syndrome (and why) can help tremendously. The most important thing to realise is that you're not alone, and this doesn't have to plague your reality forever."


Thais Sky was nominated for the Forbes 30 under 30, and runs a highly successful podcast (Reclaim) on issues relating to female empowerment.

5) Chloe Condon

“Especially now that I have a lot of ownership over what I do, I experience imposter syndrome. Back in the days where I was a recruiter or a PA, I was very used to being told what to do. Now that people are asking me what to do I say, ‘Are you sure?! I’ve only been doing this 9 months.’

I deal with imposter syndrome every minute of every day. I always feel like I don’t know enough or I’m not doing enough. I think that our imposter syndrome keeps us in check, though. If you don’t have a little bit of it, it might be a red flag.

I think that, especially in engineering, there is just so much knowledge. Something that I heard recently that helps me deal a little bit better with it is ‘Everybody who’s an expert at something at some point didn’t know anything about it.’”


Chloe Condon is a Developer Evangelist with Sentry. You may remember her (and some more of her accolades) from our recent post on breaking into a coding career.

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