Imposter Syndrome describes the suspicion that many of us have experienced, whereby we find ourselves in a role that those around us seem comfortable and natural in, and we think we’ll be rumbled as a fraud. Originally, this concept was thought to be a feeling experienced by women, women who had broken through ‘the glass ceiling’ in business.

The phrase is simply a phrase about lacking confidence and the feeling of being credible – it’s not a medical condition, so we could relate it to any situation where we worry that we aren’t authentic.

It can be something as commonplace as having just passed our driving test and we’re out alone amongst the ‘real’ drivers for the first time. Or as a young adult who still feels like we’re playing at being a grownup (that feeling never leaves!).

We may have been introduced as ‘the expert’ in a whole range of situations and instantly this causes anxiety for us because we know that there are things that we don’t know, however informed we are, and oh no…I’m going to be revealed as a phoney!

I was introduced as ‘an expert’ on a Channel 5 programme a couple of years ago. Thankfully, that was in the voiceover that was added afterwards. If I’d heard that before I’d been expected to perform ‘expertly’ on camera – I’m confident that nothing but stutters and squeaks would have tripped out of my mouth! That’s not performance anxiety, that’s me thinking ‘Oh my god – the REAL experts are going to see this and rumble me!’ This, despite me being incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in that particular area, something I can’t deny, even if it makes me cringe to write it!

I mention it here because so many of us neurodivergent people describe imposter syndrome as something we experience before we are officially diagnosed. We feel strongly that we do belong – it feels right. But that, in many ways, just increases the fear that we won’t belong. We don’t trust our own judgement. We have been conditioned in our society to believe that only medical professionals can give us the stamp of authenticity.

Imposter syndrome is thought to relate to perfectionism but it’s also thought to be more likely in people who have experienced trauma. These two features alone would include a lot of late-diagnosed neurodivergent people.

So, if you’re worried that you don’t belong here, but everything you read, your membership of one of our communities, simply your gut… if any of that gives you a feeling of finally being part of a community that understands you, then that is the only stamp of authenticity you need.

Welcome! 🙂