「冒名頂替症候群」早在1978年由臨床心理學家 Pauline Rose Clance 及 Suzanne Imes 發現，用來指出一些無法相信自己能力的成功人士，他們總擔心會被他人否定自己的地位或能力。40年後，這種心理現象在今天更受關注，因為社交媒體讓「冒名頂替症候群」有不一樣的詮釋。
在社交媒體上，我們更偏向上載自己的美照、旅行照、「放閃」照，營造美好、悠閒的生活，讓世人羨慕自己。許多人還專誠到人氣地點打卡，或者為了擺拍、P圖而花上好幾個小時。可是他們的現實生活就只有100% 的美滿幸福嗎？猶記得澳洲KOL Essena O’Neill 本來在 Instagram 上美照連連，照片都捕足了許多生活上的自然瞬間，但有一天，她自白了——所有照片都不是她的真實生活，所有「自然流露」的照片都來自過百次的刻意。她拿着錢為品牌賣廣告，卻不了解該品牌或產品。到最後，她選擇告訴大眾這些照片都是「NOT REAL LIFE」，讓她迷失又寂寞，哭訴着「不想再靠欺騙來獲利了」。（過往照片已被刪除）
在某程度上，「冒名頂替症候群」可以推動自己更努力朝理想生活進發，但這樣的「理想」是適合自己的，還是只為了得到別人的注目？如果你已經意識到這社交網絡的泡沫卻未敢戳破，第一步便要學會放下手機，聆聽自己內心的聲音。要走出這心理迴圈，心理醫生 Dr. Handelman 也提出數個要點：
Dare to Be Imperfect.
Dare to Fail.
Dare to Love Yourself.
The Imposter Syndrome: Dare to be Imperfect.
Have you ever won an award, but felt unworthy of it? Questioned whether you deserved the promotion your company gave you last week? Or perhaps you’re constantly asking why your significant other chose you out of all the fish in the sea, so to speak.
Whilst traditionally you might have been diagnosed with a case of low self esteem, research has revealed that this is actually a common phenomenon known as the ‘imposter syndrome’.
Discovered in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, and Suzanne Imes, the imposter syndrome is characterised by an inability to recognise and acknowledge one’s achievements and abilities. Those affected constantly doubt themselves, despite their clear achievements. And 40 years after its discovery, the imposter syndrome has become more prevalent than ever, fueled by the rise of social media and its fast tracks to fame.
In 2015, Australian instagram model Essena O’Neill announced that she was quitting social media – an announcement that came as a surprised to many. She revealed that her images on instagram, featuring many candid moments from her life, were in fact “NOT REAL”, and a part of a carefully curated portfolio. “It’s contrived perfection made to get attention”, she revealed in an instagram post.
Whilst social media undoubtedly brings us closer as a society, often, the ‘real self’ becomes shadowed by the persona we carefully curate, thus evoking a sense of pretence. For an influencer or a celebrity, perhaps the birkins they pose with are returned to Hermès after the shoot, the books stacked next to a coffee cup for a ‘cozy night in’ are really just props. It’s not so far from our own reality – the subtle use of facetune to brighten the selfies, the deliberate staging of ‘candid’ shots.
As the generation of the ‘imposter syndrome’, the need to curate a ‘successful’ image online is comparable to the need to do the same in our professional life. However, this can sometimes fail to resonate with our real selves. This gap between what is a crafted ideal, and what is real, ultimately gives an impression of falsehood or imposterhood. As testament to this problem, a study conducted by Amazing If found a third of young people suffering from this phenomenon, with 70% of people experiencing it at least once in their lives.
But can imposter syndrome be positive in any way? Perhaps it can encourage us to work harder, to turn an ideal into reality. But by the same token, it’s also necessary that we put aside our preconceived notions of what it means to be successful, to recognise that the ideal we portray is simply an image, and that the struggles we face day to day do not make us undeserving of our successes, but rather, are cornerstones to our achievements.
Psychologist Dr Handelman has a few pieces of advice for navigating the ‘imposter syndrome’:
- Everyone needs help from time to time – this is normal.
- Perfection is impossible.
- Failure is not everything. Rather, failures and mistakes are necessary for success.
- Be kind to yourself, and focus on your strengths and abilities.
As January heralds the start of a new year, set a goal for yourself:
- Dare to be imperfect.
- Dare to fail.
- Dare to love yourself.
- Dare to be you.
Translated and edited by Wendy Liang