ADHD Imposter Syndrome: Stop Feeling Like a Fraud

Demi Aspey
6 mins read
Sep 22, 2023

Welcome, all you incredible overthinkers and undervaluers, to the spotlight-stealing circus act that is ADHD Imposter Syndrome! 

This sneaky character is always lurking in the background, slyly casting doubt into every success you've fought so hard for. 

If it's so desperate for our attention, I guess we better give it some and find out what it wants from us!

So, if you're feeling like a fraud despite every indication that you shouldn't, this one is for you and the heap of us who experience imposter syndrome.

With or without ADHD!

What is ADHD Imposter Syndrome? 👽

Time to unmask (yes, that was an ADHD pun) this elusive, pesky little imposter.

I'll give you a hint, the imposter isn't you!

Imposter Syndrome is that inner demon whispering in your ear that your accomplishments are mere luck, that you're not deserving, and, heavens forbid, you're a downright fraud.

Imagine juggling your daily life while fighting off an inner critic that's armed with a megaphone, shouting all your doubts and fears on max volume.\

Spiderman ADHD Imposter Syndrome Meme

Now, factors like your personal traits, societal pressures, and even significant life transitions can amplify this all too knowledgeable demon.

When it grips you viscerally, it feels like being a tightrope walker with vertigo—constantly shaky, never secure. 

A barrage of self-doubt, an ever-present fear of failure, gnawing criticism, a penchant for overcompensating, a distorted lens of comparison, and a steadfast refusal to accept compliments.

Oh, and to add lighter fuel to the already burning fire of symptoms ADHD can throw at us, imposter syndrome knows all there is to know about you.

After all, it is your subconscious manifesting and using all your insecurities to win its game. 

And let's get one thing straight—ADHD Imposter Syndrome doesn't check for VIP tickets. 

It's general admission, baby! 

Tickets Please Southpark ADHD Imposter Syndrome Meme

From the celebs who seemingly have it all to the overworked parent juggling five tasks at once, no one is immune.

What Does Imposter Syndrome Feel Like? 🔬

Imagine carrying an internal auditor who's relentless, who takes every compliment or praise and scrutinises it under a microscope of self-doubt. 

Think sweaty palms when you're complimented, an incessant urge to check your work a thousand times, or a sinking feeling in your stomach when someone acknowledges your expertise. 

It's like living with that teacher you despised from high school who never had a good word to say no matter how hard you tried or how well you performed on a test. 

Who Can Experience Imposter Syndrome? 🤝

If you're thinking it's just you, spoiler alert: It's not. 

Sorry to burst the bubble on that one but at least you're not alone!

Young or old, climbing the corporate ladder or already sitting in the corner office, fresh grad or industry vet, ADHD or no ADHD—we're all in the same, teeming pot of Imposter Syndrome stew.

Michelle Obama Imposter Syndrome Quote
Michelle Obama on Imposter Syndrome
Emma Watson Imposter Syndrome Quote
Emma Watson on Imposter Syndrome

What's the Connection Between Imposter Syndrome and ADHD? 🧠

Hang on to your hats because the symbiotic relationship between Imposter Syndrome and ADHD is like a Hollywood thriller, packed with unexpected twists.

You see, ADHD often pushes you to hyperfocus on the negative, on the 'what could go wrong,' leaving you ripe for Imposter Syndrome to swoop in and wreak havoc.

But how does this relationship manifest in your daily life?

Maybe you find yourself apologising unnecessarily in professional settings, or you have this incessant need to prove yourself, even when no one's asking you to.

Ah, and then we have societal pressures, ever pushing us to conform, and let's not forget our frenemy, Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD), always amplifying the emotional stakes.

What are the Signs of Imposter Syndrome in ADHD? 🥷

1. Self-Imposed Pressure: Striving for Perfection

You don't just aim high, you shoot for another galaxy and then agonise when you fall short.

2. People-Pleasing: Fearing Disapproval

You're a master at reading a room and adapting to it, all to avoid that petrifying moment of conflict or disapproval.

3. Minimising Accomplishments: Downplaying Achievements

Even if you cure the common cold, you'd probably say, "Well, anyone could have done it."

4. Suspicion of Compliments: Doubting Praise

A compliment triggers an internal debate on whether the person is just being polite or if there's a catch.

5. Unhealthy Comparisons: Measuring Up to Others

Social media and ADHD are a complex mix.

Social media can be both a sanctuary and a torture chamber where you size up your life against curated snapshots of others.

6. External Perceptions: Seen as Capable by Others

Despite glowing reviews, you feel like you're teetering on the edge of being discovered for the 'fraud' you think you are.

7. Feeling Like a Failure: Despite Evidence of Success

You might land a huge client, but instead of celebrating, you're bracing for the one negative review you're sure is coming.

ADHD Imposter Syndrome's Impact: Navigating Its Effects 🗺️

Not to be dramatic, but if left unchecked, the stormy waters of Imposter Syndrome could turn into a full-blown hurricane, leaving your mental health and self-esteem in shambles. 

From spiralling anxiety levels and chronic stress and work burnout to missed opportunities, it's a pile-on of emotional burdens.

Studies and research underscore its damning impact on our lives, stunting both personal and professional growth. 

Some of the other key knock effects of the Imposter include:

  • Procrastinating and task paralysis
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Struggling academically or at work
  • Partaking in self-sabotaging behaviours
  • Trash talking yo' self
ADHD Imposter Syndrome Meeting Meme

Yet, understanding your 'imposterness' can be a path to self-discovery and a more authentic self.

How to Overcome ADHD Imposter Syndrome? 🫷

Here comes the rainbow after the storm. 🌈

Overcoming ADHD Imposter Syndrome isn't an overnight task; it's a lifelong endeavour, a long-haul flight with layovers, delays, but ultimately, a destination. 

Begin by acknowledging how you feel—say it out loud if you must. Seeking support from trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals can help you start to reframe those destructive thought patterns. 

Strategies like cognitive behavioural techniques, mindfulness exercises, and positive affirmations can go a long way.

Personally, I like to keep a folder on my desktop where I save nice things that people have said to me.

Think client reviews, kind messages from friends, grades or feedback on work or things you're personally proud of.

ADHD Imposter Syndrome Growth Mindset

Where To Find More ADHD Resources?

If you want to read or learn more about ADHD, check out some of these great ADHD books, ADHD podcasts, or explore our ADHD blog filled with insights and actionable strategies.

For those looking to go the extra mile, here are some invaluable ADHD productivity tools, ADHD products, and an ADHD body doubling website where you can find a supportive and understanding community.

These tools can help you manage daily ADHD symptoms, relieve loneliness and anxiety, and ultimately help you get more done and overcome the imposter syndrome.

An Imposter Calls 📱

When the Imposter comes a'knocking, open the folder and have a read. Show it what you're made of and don't bow down to its demands.

Remember, whether you opt for a DIY approach or decide that a professional guide is what you need on this mental hike, the journey to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is just as important as the destination. 

Your self-growth is worth the ticket price, so know that we're here for you and you never have to face the demon alone. 

Don't lose sight of the bigger picture—you're not an imposter; you're a work in progress. 

We all are.

Feeling like you just took a Masterclass on ADHD Imposter Syndrome? 

Good, because that's precisely the idea! 

Let's turn that spotlight away from self-doubt and aim it at your incredible capabilities, potential, and resilience. 

Onwards to greatness! 

You're in for a powerful, stereotype-shattering month!

FAQ 🙋‍♀️

Who struggles with Imposter Syndrome?

From Tom Hanks and David Bowie to Lady Gaga, Emma Watson and Michelle Obama, all the Deepwrk Gang and even you - we all wrestle with the Imposter at times. 

Do you have to have ADHD to experience Imposter Syndrome?

It isn't an ADHD exclusive, but if you are neurodiverse you might get an enhanced Imposter package. *Sarcastic Yay!*

Find your flow with Deepwrk. An ADHD body doubling app to get more done solo, not alone!
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Demi Aspey
Demi is the founder of the creative agency, Sonder Script, a culture columnist for House of Coco magazine, a part-time lecturer, and a soon-to-be Doctor in screenwriting. She is a scriptwriter by speciality and a copywriting cultivator by trade. Demi is a mental health advocate and was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.