Michigan Nonprofit Lowdown Blog Banner

Michigan Nonprofit Association Blog

MNA’s Blog is designed to give you, the nonprofit community, an informal look into the issues currently facing Michigan’s nonprofit sector and an opportunity to share tools, resources and best practices. It’s also a way for us to get to know each other a little bit better through candid discussions of the topics, challenges and opportunities that our sector deals with on a regular basis. Check back daily and participate in the discussions by posting a comment or emailing our bloggers. We love hearing from you!

What is Imposter Syndrome and Why It’s Worse for Women of Color

By Nellie Tsai - Social Innovation Officer

Nellie Tsai Headshot

The first time I heard the term imposter syndrome, I thought to myself – finally! It perfectly captured how I felt in so many instances of my life; that I didn’t deserve to be in whatever space I was in. Imposter syndrome- simply put- is feeling like a fraud, feeling like you don’t belong, despite whatever education, accomplishments, experiences you might have.  

Every time I enter a room, get invited to sit at a proverbial table, a small inner voice tells me “I don’t belong here, and they know it.”Graduation According to a report, nearly 70% of people experience this at some point in their lives, which means I’m in good company. I felt this the most acutely when I was in my MBA program, where I felt so unaccomplished with my nonprofit background in a cohort full of management consultants. I can see it showing up in my work, even now, where I find myself sometimes paralyzed by a need to make sure everything is perfect; that if I make a mistake or fail, there is no coming back from that.  

There’s plenty to unpack with imposter syndrome – this self-doubt is compounded by systemic oppression that adds to my inner dialogue. As an Asian woman, I know that part of this syndrome is the internalized narrative of the “perpetual foreigner,” that despite being born in the US, I will never not be asked “where are you really from.” Not only do I feel like I don’t belong, but I also look like I don’t belong. Whew. Like I said, there’s a lot to unpack here.  

So, I’m humbly inviting you to join me in a Community Conversation to explore this topic more. There will be a BIPOC only session to give space to those of us who want to have this discussion in a virtual room with others who have racialized identities that compounds how imposter syndrome shows up.   

Please join Nellie Tsai for a candid conversation about Imposter Syndrome, Friday, April 30, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM for a BIPOC only session or for a 12:30-2:00 PM session for everyone. 

Register here.