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Imposter Syndrome

By Alba Villarreal

Imposter syndrome is one of the most misunderstood, yet universally experienced phenomena in the Latinx community. It is defined as intense feelings of self-doubt and not belonging, both which can severely affect mental health. Like the name implies, people who experience this in their everyday lives feel like imposters. Navigating as an “imposter,” they are constantly afraid that one day they will be exposed as being a fraud. According to a study by the Behavioral Science Research Institute, nearly 70% of professionals have experienced imposter syndrome. [1]

While it is not an official diagnosis, imposter syndrome is very real in the psyches of Latinx individuals who struggle to find their place in majority white academic and professional settings. As the Latinx community grows and enters the workforce and higher education, many find themselves lost and unsure of their abilities. Women, especially, are more common to struggle with 54% reporting it, making Latinx women and other women of color the most susceptible to imposter syndrome.[2]

One of the most common spaces that imposter syndrome is experienced is in academic settings, where large numbers of Latinx students struggle constantly. Without proper support, these feelings of self-doubt can grow and create such stress on a student that it leads to poor grades and risks their academic future. Many predominantly white colleges and universities are not equipped with addressing students through this hardship and thus lose many students every year. This can explain the lower college graduation rates in Latinx communities.

Even post-graduation, Latinx individuals go on to struggle with imposter syndrome in professional settings. Navigating a new career in a predominantly white space can be difficult for Latinx folks and for many, it strains productivity and mental health.

Without proper resources and the disproportionate access to education for Latinx communities, people will continue to struggle with imposter syndrome. Mental health resources such as therapy can improve conditions that create such feelings of doubt. However, diversifying our professional and academic spaces will significantly reduce the prevalence of imposter syndrome.

[1] -, Shirley Gomez, et al. “Coping with Imposter Syndrome, and Surviving to Tell the Story.” BeLatina, 25 Aug. 2020, belatina.com/latinos-impostor-syndrome/.

[2] Muller-Heyndyk, Rachel. “Female and Younger Leaders More Susceptible to Imposter Syndrome.” HR Magazine, 2019, www.hrmagazine.co.uk/content/news/female-and-younger-leaders-more-susceptible-to-imposter-syndrome.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, CEO of GALEO at jerry@galeo.org

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