Impostor syndrome causes people to view success as dependent on how much effort and hard work is put in and so they put in extraordinary amounts of effort often to the point of being chronically burned out. Perfectionism can also be a hallmark of the impostor syndrome experience leaving people feeling like unless something is executed meticulously with no errors that it is worthless. Therefore, professionals and students struggling from impostor syndrome at work or school live in fear of making mistakes. Likewise, they may feel ashamed every time they make a mistake, thinking that this error will be where everyone finds out that they have been “faking it” this whole time. Despite the many valid reasons for their success, they may feel like the fact that they have to put in extra hours or effort is evidence of being a fraud.
Believing that intelligence means that things should come easier to you is a classic belief of impostor syndrome. If you have traditionally put in more effort and longer hours than your peers, you might credit your work ethic for your success while still harboring doubts about your intelligence or abilities. In an effort to maintain achievements and prove their worth, many people continue to work longer hours and take on additional work to the point that they become overwhelmed and burnt out by compounding stress.
Even after receiving praise or recognition for an achievement, people who deal with impostor syndrome may quickly feel like they are back to square one and think, “I am just not good enough” when they receive criticism or make a mistake. You may even worry so much about how your work will be received that you end up procrastinating or aren’t able to give the task your full effort.