Michelle Obama opens up on experiencing imposter syndrome

michelle obama imposter sydrome advice
(Image credit: Getty)

Michelle Obama has opened up on imposter syndrome, revealing that she has experienced the feeling herself in the past.

The common psychological syndrome, where one feels inadequate or like a fraud in either their personal or professional lives, affects many people around the world, especially when it comes to the work environment.

And now the former First Lady has revealed that she has also experienced the feeling herself.

“I’ve been there plenty of times,” Michelle said to Vogue. “What’s helped me most is remembering that our worst critics are almost always ourselves.

“Women and girls are already up against so much,” she went on, “the fact is that you wouldn’t be in that room if you didn’t belong there.

MORE: (opens in new tab)Imposter syndrome: what is it, why do we feel it, and how can overcome it

“And while negative thoughts are bound to crop up as you take on new roles and challenges, you can acknowledge them without letting them stop you from occupying space and doing the work.

“That’s really the only way we grow — by moving beyond our fears and developing trust that our voices and ideas are valuable”.

The mum-of-two, who shares daughters 21-year-old Malia and 18-year-old Sasha with husband Barack Obama, continued, “For so long, women and girls have been told we don’t belong in the classroom, boardroom, or any room where big decisions are being made.

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“So when we do manage to get into the room, we are still second-guessing ourselves, unsure if we really deserve our seat at the table. We doubt our own judgment, our own abilities, and our own reasons for being where we are.

“Even when we know better, it can still lead to us playing it small and not standing in our full power”.

Touching on opportunities for girls and women, Michelle added, “I want every girl on this planet to have the same opportunities that I’ve had. But right now, more than 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school.

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“That’s an injustice that affects all of us…It’s on all of us to make sure every young girl has access to a quality education”.

Speaking about how to overcome imposter syndrome, Michelle explained, “We need to give our girls the chance to discover their own voices.

“So often, we tell women that they should be speaking up, fighting for better conditions, and standing up all on their own to the inequity they face. But if we never give our girls the space to practice using their voices, how will they become women who know when to raise them?”.

MORE: 6 celebrities that prove being an introvert spells big success (opens in new tab)

“At the same time, we need to bring our boys and men into this effort, too,” she continued.

“So much could change in a generation if we taught our boys to listen to girls, to see them as their equals.

“Because the truth is women are just as capable and qualified as men to lead.

“And if we give our girls the chance to become the women they’re meant to be, we really can set off a ripple effect that transforms the world”.

Aleesha is a digital shopping writer at woman&home—so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows what the best buys are at any moment. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. A year on the w&h news team gained her invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first—as well as an AOP awards nomination.