Five Types of Imposter Syndrome: Do Any of These Sound Familiar to You?

By Tatenda


Last Updated: May 30, 2022

Despite having accomplished a lot of things, do you ever feel like a complete fraud or an imposter?

Well, you’re not alone. This is exactly how I felt in the morning when I almost crashed into another car. About 70% of professionals feel like they are imposters.

Generally, imposter syndrome refers to a sense of doubt that makes one believe that they are not good enough. Imposter syndrome makes one believe that they are inadequate and incompetent despite the existing evidence that suggests otherwise.

Experts have further categorized imposter syndrome into five subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Expert, the Natural Genius, the Superwoman/man and the Soloist.



The Five Types of Imposter Syndrome

The Perfectionist

This kind of person expects anything and everything they do to be perfect to the T.

They set high standards for everything. Not that high standards are a bad thing, but sometimes chasing high standards all the time can be draining and, in some cases, it is just not realistic for us to achieve those standards all the time.

Moreover, the perfectionist might also find it very difficult to delegate some tasks to others. When they do, they are often called the micromanager because they are on every one’s case making sure every tiny detail of the project is perfect.

To them, anything that is not perfect is a fail. Even if just 0.01% of the project is the not so perfect portion.


The Expert

The expert believes that what they know determines their competence.

Knowing that they do not know everything that is there to know makes them feel like a fraud and unknowledgeable. Such kinds of people will avoid engaging in a conversation when they do not know everything about a topic.

They will not apply to a job unless that meet all the listed requirements. Even if they have a chance of being accepted.

They strive for more of everything, be it knowledge or experience. As a result, they take on a lot of courses because they feel the need to learn and be experts. Knowing that there is someone out there who could be better than them makes them feel like imposters.

Upgrading yourself and improving your skill set is not a bad thing. However, if you feel like your worth is solely dependent on what you know, there might be a problem that needs to be addressed.


The Natural Genius

These people believe that they should be geniuses in everything they do.

They are so hard on themselves based on how they perform a task on the first attempt. If they do not know anything or take a while to master a new skill, they feel like a fraud. They look at the experts and pros in their fields and wonder why they are also not like that.

They believe that they should excel at anything and everything without having to put in much effort.

Usually, from a young age these people are told that they are the ‘smart ones’ in a group of friends or among siblings. As a result, they grow up believing that they should know everything effortlessly as they are the smart ones.

They avoid taking on new challenges because they are scared of failing. To them failure is such a huge set back that they should never encounter rather than a step towards learning and improving.


The Superwoman/man

These people tend to overwork themselves so as to match with the others who are around them.

They feel like they do not have the qualities that their colleagues have, so they have to work extra hard in order for them to achieve the same results as everyone else around them.

They feel that the best way to prove their worth is by working harder than everyone else. Consequently, they overwork themselves. What they will be looking for is the validation that will come from others after working so hard.

Without the validation from the boss or supervisor, they feel like they haven’t done enough work and need to push harder.

They are often the last people to leave the office or library. When they are not working, they feel stressed as they think they are wasting time that they should be working on something and staying on top just like everyone else.

As a result, they do not have time to enjoy their hobbies and spend time with family, friends and loved ones.


The Soloist

The Soloist will try to get everything done alone.

They believe that they should be able to do everything alone and asking for help or assistance from others is a sign of weakness. If they ask for help they think others will view them as imposters. Their independence is proof of their self-worth.

Should they need assistance from others, they make sure that the other people know that they are contributing towards the success of the project and not necessarily helping them.



Final Thoughts on the Five Imposter Syndrome Types

Imposter syndrome can be a huge hinderance in achieving goals and general productivity. Studies have also found imposter syndrome to increase anxiety and depression.

Now that you know these types of imposter syndrome, the next step is to beat imposter syndrome and believe in yourself with these tips.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio


5 comments on “Five Types of Imposter Syndrome: Do Any of These Sound Familiar to You?”

  1. My thoughts of losing what was mines,(my life's privacy) stand before all the imposter syndrome. I stand in judgment now, some maybe true and some is assumed.

  2. I'm the soloist! Don't intend to be but some people think helping is taking over and doing their own thing. Can't seem to get them to grasp the purpose verses opportunity. Such as a decorator. I say simple, they turn it into a photo shoot for their portfolio. Overkill.

  3. I feel I am a mix between the soloist, the expert and a bit of the perfectionist, but the one that stands out the most is the expert. I feel I can't get my ideas out there if I don't have absolutely all the information about the topic. Working on it though!

    1. That's not a bad thing to want to be informed before you get going Sheila, but don't lose confidence in your ideas! Keep us posted on your journey.

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