Paralympian Brenna Huckaby on Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
Paralympian Shares the Epiphany That Helped Her Overcome Impostor Syndrome
It doesn't matter how famous or successful you might be, impostor syndrome will likely find a way to come for you. The psychological phenomenon happens when we convince ourselves that we don't truly deserve our accomplishments, attributing them to luck or forces beyond our control rather than our own skill or hard work. It also comes with a persistent fear that the "facade" is only temporary, and that someday, everyone will see the truth.
Some research says that up to 82 percent of people have felt impostor syndrome at one time or another. Even wildly successful people like Jennifer Lopez and Olympic champion gymnast Suni Lee have shared their experiences with it. Clearly, it doesn't matter how many Grammys or Olympic medals you may have: once impostor syndrome gets a hold of you, it can be hard to shake it off.
Brenna Huckaby can relate. The three-time Paralympic gold medalist in snowboarding shared an Instagram reel yesterday detailing her own experience with impostor syndrome and the epiphany that helped her overcome it. In the video, the 26-year-old explained that she's been struggling with impostor syndrome "for years" but has recently started addressing it in therapy. "I think, deep down, that I don't believe I matter," Huckaby says. "I don't believe my opinions matter, and I don't believe my voice matters."
It was a shift in her mindset, she says, that helped her overcome impostor syndrome. At a recent fundraiser, Huckaby realized how often she felt "small" in these types of settings. "I feel like I don't belong in this group," she explains. "Like I haven't done enough to sit at these tables." This may seem strange, coming from a Paralympic champion — but impostor syndrome devalues your accomplishments so that, no matter what you do, you never think you "deserve" the things you've achieved.
Huckaby's breakthrough came when she realized her worth had never been dependent on her accomplishments, as impressive as they were. Instead, she says, overcoming impostor syndrome was about "actually recognizing [that] my worth as a person is no greater nor no less than any other person in that room." This epiphany was "transformative," she says. "Now I . . . sit at these tables, and I know that my voice has value. I know that my opinions matter. I know whatever I say is important, and so is what these people are saying. We're all equal."
If you find yourself dealing with impostor syndrome, experts in previous POPSUGAR articles have recommended normalizing your feelings by opening up to other people or a therapist; reframing the way you see competence, failure, and fear; and continuing to persevere, regardless of what that voice in your head tells you. You can also take a cue from Huckaby and take the pressure off your successes.
Sure, accomplishments and accolades are great, but we all have inherent value as human beings. "We all matter equally," Huckaby says. "We all have voices, and they all need to be heard."