photo courtesy of Unsplash

You worry. You have the depth, sensitivity, and intelligence to know that life is complicated and there are always multiple variables to consider. That there are no easy answers or quick solutions. And yet, you worry that you are not as smart as everyone says. That some day you will be exposed as the horrible fraud that you so obviously are.

Think about it. There are people we all know who do not worry about this. They firmly believe that they have all of the answers and that they are very smart. They do not worry that they are impostors. Kind of like a narcissist does not worry that he is a narcissist because he is a narcissist.

But you do not trust that your depth, sensitivity, and intelligence is enough. Even if you were identified in school as a gifted child. Even if people keep telling you how smart you are. Even if you are a super achiever. You do not trust that it means that you are bright enough. You imagine that some day the truth will come out and you will be exposed as the impostor that you are.

There are reasons for your impostor syndrome. There are benefits to having it. Here are ten of them.

If you believe that you are an impostor, then–

10. You can avoid the pressure and expectations that come with being seen as a very smart person.

9. You are protected from ever having to produce anything of note.

8. You do not have to worry about being overwhelmed because no one will be paying attention to you and that is the way your introverted soul likes it.

7. You might actually be an impostor so you are not embarrassing yourself in the future by admitting it now.

6. In a past life, you were burned at the stake for being brilliant, and that was kind of painful so you would rather not repeat it.

5. Family members like you better when you are not so uppity.

4. You were bullied in school for showing your intellectual enthusiasm so you decided that mediocrity was a safe alternative.

3. You grew up with narcissistic parents and will avoid being like them — at all costs.

2. Your need to be fair and equitable to all humans overwhelms the evidence that you might be smarter than many of them.

1. People like you because you are less annoying when you are self-deprecating so they bring you tuna casseroles and cupcakes when you are sick.

So, the next time you hesitate to write your book or speak your mind or believe that you are highly intelligent, maybe even gifted, know that there are good reasons for your fears of utter humiliation and devastation for all eternity. Thank your impostor syndrome for its comprehensiveness.

But don’t let it stop you.


  • Paula Prober

    Psychotherapist, Consultant, Blogger, and Author based in Eugene, Oregon

    Paula Prober, M.S., is a licensed counselor, consultant, blogger, author, and tango dancer living in Eugene, Oregon. She blogs at Your Rainforest Mind, (, a blog in support of the excessively curious, creative, smart, and sensitive. She writes about mental, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual health for know-it-alls, sensitives, geeks, bookworms, brainiacs, dropouts, perfectionists, wonderers, and empaths in her book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth. She consults internationally with gifted adults and parents of gifted children.