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When success makes you feel like a fake.

When success triggers Imposter Syndrome

If you go from having ‘nothing’ to having ‘everything’ are you destined to feel like an Imposter?

It’s a big question I know.

And can success actually make Imposter Syndrome worse?

Oooh an even bigger question.

But before I answer it…

Once upon a time, there was an actor who leaped from the shadows of obscurity to the glaring spotlight of success.

Not just any success, the glaring spotlight of Hollywood success.

This actor was Sylvester Stallone, a name synonymous with resilience and triumph.

But soon after his remarkable rise Imposter Syndrome kicked in.

Stallone’s journey, was recently depicted in a documentary.

It’s a classic tale of rags to riches.

To so many, his success appeared ‘overnight’.

But was it really?

Or was it the culmination of relentless effort, determination, and belief in his own storytelling ability?

I don’t want to spoil it for you because it’s worth watching.

Growing up with a dad and 2 brothers, I was exposed to many of Stallone’s films.

In hindsight, many were too violent for a child to be watching, but hey it was the 80’s and Rocky IV is still one of my all time favourite movies.

Sly is also great case study on how – Imposter Syndrome can sneak in when success seems to outpace our internal narratives of worthiness.

Stallone’s tough childhood, marked by neglect and abuse driven primarily from his father, ingrained a sense of inadequacy.

He also received a lot of rejection and negative feedback on his worth and physical appearance throughout his childhood and young adult life.

Despite this, he scripted his own destiny, carving out success with his bare hands, yet at times still questioned his worth, even when the world applauded him. (hello Imposter Syndrome)

Then came the pressure to repeat success – a common sequel to Imposter Syndrome, but also on steroids with the glaring pressures of Hollywood and fame in the USA/global.

It’s one thing to reach the peak; it’s another to stay there.

Stallone’s fear mirrored what many of us feel when fast and/or huge success knocks unexpectedly, even if deep down we have desired it.

The question arises, “Do I really belong here?”

This story isn’t just about Stallone.

It’s about many of us.

Success, especially when it disrupts a long-standing narrative of struggle or negativity, can feel undeserved.

We attribute it to luck, timing, or other external factors, but rarely to our own merit.

Imposter Syndrome raises it’s head at a time when we should in fact be patting ourselves on the back.

But here’s the thing:

Recognising your worth isn’t a one-time event.

It’s a continuous process.

Each step you take, every obstacle you overcome, adds to your reservoir of self-belief.

The key is to learn to internalise your achievements as much as you do your failures (we all fail at times)

This doesn’t mean Imposter Syndrome will never show up (we know it does in 70% of us) but if it does you’ll question it, not simply believe it.

So if you’ve ever had fast and/or huge success, remember, it’s not an anomaly.

It’s a testament to your resilience, your talent, and your hard work.

Embrace your journeys, with all their twists and turns.

Give yourself the credit you deserve.

Because you are not an Imposter in your own story, you are the Author.

You belong.

You’ve earned it.



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