“Imposter Syndrome” is Definitely Misnamed, Might Be a Condition of Privilege, & Has a Fascinating History

Things I Learned From a New Yorker Article and How I Got Over My Own Insecurity

Hunter Walk
4 min readFeb 27


Good writers aren’t just skilled in their prose, they have a nose for interesting topics. “Why Everyone Feels Like They’re Faking It,” an article about imposter syndrome in a recent issue of the New Yorker, is an example of a GREAT subject. The type of read where you pause between sections to chew on what you just finished.

The Imposter Phenomenon, as the original researchers called it (the fact it’s mutated to a ‘syndrome’ is part of its questionable evolution and ubiquity), has been coming up in my communities, mostly as a result of the tech economy struggles. The belief that perhaps you weren’t good at your job, it was just the markets going up, or, even more insidious, that you were never good at your job so now that a bull market isn’t masking that fact you’re about to be found out, are two oft-repeated confessions.

a person, standing on the top of flagpole, very high up on the sky, digital art [DALL-E]

Regardless of how it’s being felt, I have my own empathy for people dealing with these internal snickers of doubt. For a long time my version of imposterdom was fueled by “I think I belong in this room but just barely, so I need to hold on tightly and/or constantly prove it, less I get kicked out.” As a result it was more difficult to be pleased by individual or team success, which only served as a reminder that the next race was beginning. And in hindsight, the perilous nature of my own perch probably made it more difficult for me to see conflict as a ‘fight or flight’ challenge, rather than an opportunity to build connection and shared understanding.

Thankfully, besides just getting old, I created hacks to retrain my defaults. They’re more fully detailed in this previous blog post (“How I Calmed My Imposter Syndrome with These Two Tricks”) but in summary:

What Would 18 Year Old Hunter Think About Where You Are?

Are You So Good That You’re Fooling All These People?

So back to that New Yorker article. First off, the research dates back to two women [Pauline Clance, Suzanne Imes — Oberlin College colleagues] in the 1970s who brought their own…



Hunter Walk

You’ll find me @homebrew , Seed Stage Venture Fund w @satyap . Previously made products at YouTube, Google & SecondLife. Married to @cbarlerin .