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Am I Really Ma Durga Or A Victim Of Not-So-Obvious Impostor Syndrome

Posted: March 17, 2020

We live in a society where everyone is in a race to show their best. We spent so much time online whether on Facebook or WhatsApp and unconsciously keep consuming all the information. Sometime, I seriously wonder that how do people manage everything, and especially women. They are doing well in career, managing their house so perfectly, still sparing some time for functions, outings and travels, I really wonder how? Everyone seems to be in this race of Superwoman or Superman, whether they admit  it or not.

Every other day, WhatsApp status comes with these motivation quotes like how to manage time efficiently or live your life until it is too late, be a smart manager, do multitasking etc. and what not, list is endless. Many self-help, motivational books keep coming, and now these YouTube channels which emphasize on how to make the work-life balance so you can enjoy the best of everything. There is no harm if you really can make a balance and enjoy everything, but important is to keep a check on our thoughts whether we really feel like doing all this or we feel an urge to do this because everyone else is doing this and this seems normal to do.

Do we feel self-doubt when we don’t accomplish anything or we are really challenging ourselves just to prove our self-worth or we are challenging ourselves just to make us feel that we belong here… If this is the case, then we really need to analyze the case as this might be that we are suffering from the ‘Impostor Syndrome’. It is not unusual to feel this kind of feeling every now and then, but the problem is when these kinds of feeling are persistent and start interfering in our daily life. These kind of thoughts are so obvious in our Indian mindset that we hardly bother to see it from any other perspective and simply ignore them and keep challenging ourselves to be our best. We have been brought up like this and this is how we have been conditioned since childhood.

Whenever someone is good at multitasking, they are compared to Ma Durga with her ten hands, and those of us who are not that good at managing everything and feel time-crunched, starts aspiring to be the Ma Durga. In Bengali household, you can never throw an excuse for not performing well as you know the instant response: ‘je radhe se chulo badhe‘ literally meaning that who cooks well, can also do the hair well, indicating you should be doing everything perfectly. But, with time and progress in medical science, we are getting better equipped to know and understand our thought process, so Impostor Syndrome was first identified medically in 1978. It is usually associated with High-achievers, but in fact it can affect anyone doing any job or having any social status.

It is not a disease, or a mental disorder as such, but only a syndrome, which could be better managed with identifying its symptoms and triggers. There are primarily five types of Impostor Syndrome: Superwoman/superman; Natural genius, Perfectionist; Expert; Soloist. We need to identify what triggers the syndrome, situation, person, etc, and have to devise our strategies to cope with it. It is primarily a negative thought pattern and need to tackle it with positive self-talk or using a talk therapy or simply by being realistic or by stop comparing ourselves with others. These are all very simple mechanisms to keep things in control, but often neglecting them can make things worse. These things are so obvious and get easily neglected and work so passively, if not controlled in time, can make people mentally crippled. We need only to be vigilant of our own thoughts for our own mental well-being, but also see our attitude and actions towards others, like controlling our impulse to unnecessarily comparing others as well, especially children.

We often think that by giving the examples of others like siblings, cousins, friends, we are kind of creating role models to look for inspiration, but we need to be very careful with this kind of parenting as these small things may make a long lasting impression on memory. I know a friend of mine who has two sons. She always says proudly that her elder son is a born genius and younger one is very creative. Such talks seem so ordinary and natural.But I was amazed to learn that such comparison could also be the cause of Impostor syndrome. In today’s modern society, we travel a lot and sometime do feel excited to take jobs or study abroad. Many studies have found that this syndrome is very prevalent in international students. There is nothing to worry about, just that we need to educate ourselves and ask for help like psychologists, if needed. So, open communication is the key, create meaningful communication with self and others and keep this syndrome at bay.

My name is Indu. I am a computer engineer by profession and qualification. I am

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