The Undeserved Good Thing

Three things to help manage your Impostor Syndrome

Ria Tagulinao


Art by Gemma Correll

Lately, I’ve been meeting my friends’ inner impostors. “I can’t help but wonder if I deserve this job at all,” impostor Nat confessed. As an aviation graduate, she never thought she’d find herself in media or PR. There’s impostor Anna on her promotion to VP: “I’m just worried I don’t have the experience to take this on.”

Then there’s impostor Ria — yes, me — who sometimes still can’t wrap her head around her new job. (You’ll meet her shortly!)

The impostor syndrome. Isn’t it just so absurd?

Because, in a nutshell, it goes like this: You keep your head down, put in the work, and wait to be recognized for your effort or capability. Then when someone finally gives you that recognition (a promotion! an award! a mere “that was great work!”), you’re suddenly like, “Uhm, I don’t know what I did to deserve that… but thanks?”

For many people and in varying contexts, it cannot be helped: When the inner impostor strikes, it casts its shadow over your hard-earned milestones, rendering you unable to savor or feel worthy of where you are. What’s supposed to be a cause of celebration and pride now triggers your anxiety. Now, you find yourself contending with an Undeserved Good Thing.

So I listen to my friends battle their inner frauds. They tell me about their Undeserved Good Things. I try to give them a TED, I mean, pep talk.

Kidding aside, I thought it was worth sharing and fleshing out my thoughts. If you are dealing with impostor syndrome, my hope is that this gives you the safe space to sit with your inner impostor — and finally rein them in.

A redeeming thing

Obviously, impostor syndrome is a pain in the ass, but beneath the insecurity and anxiety, here’s what I see: someone whose heart is in the right place.

Because if anything, impostor syndrome is a sign that you care deeply about the work. Your ability to deliver — to meet a particular set of expectations — matters to you because you don’t want to take the responsibility for granted. You want to show up with your best self.



Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: