Musings in the Olive Grove

Is there an Imposter in the House?


Throughout my professional career, I have had the privilege of hearing the stories of incredible capable women who harbour an inner doubt, a persistent fear of being unmasked as imposters despite their undeniable achievements. Does this sound familiar?

Believing that we are imposters places us in a constant state of second-guessing, chasing perfection, suppressing our emotions, regularly comparing, competing, fearing failure, not being enough, keeping silent, and battling a relentless sense of anxiety. We paint on smiles, push ourselves to exhaustion, and subject ourselves to vicious and critical internal dialogue. Self-compassion is as far from us, as we are from ourselves.

It gradually dawned on me, that of course, we feel like imposters, we are not men! How can we not in all reality feel this way when we are navigating through a world that has been designed by men for the benefit of men. For millennia, societal structures, norms, language, expectations, metrics of success, standards of beauty have all been crafted to advance and accommodate the masculine perspective.

The patriarchal system, with its entrenched biases and norms has woven a narrative of exclusion, casting women as perpetual outsiders, imposters and strangers in spaces where they naturally belong as human beings.

This feeling of being an imposter is not a reflection of our capabilities or achievements; it is a systemic issue rooted in centuries old structures that perpetuate the marginalisation of women.

The story of women’s demise and inferior status is a long and bloody one. Viewing imposter syndrome through the lens of generational trauma reveals a disturbing layer to this narrative. It exposes the deep-seated scars imprinted across generations, underpinned by fear and loss. Current research indicates that descendants of trauma survivors carry the physical and emotional symptoms of traumas they have not directly experienced. Unconsciously women carry this historical burden in their souls – a deep seated trauma that plays out in so many ways, including imposter syndrome.

Therefore, when we reflect on the history of mass persecution and state sanctioned violence unleashed upon women to enforce submission, rather than succumb to imposter syndrome, let’s start questioning and challenging a system purposefully designed to diminish our power. It is so important to do our inner healing work to recognise the undercurrent of trauma that flows silently through us.

Let’s stand tall, owning and celebrating our accomplishments regardless of what they are, because they are shining evidence of our enduring resilience and defiance against a system designed to confine and limit us.

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