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Alexandra Breckenridge just summed up why your impostor syndrome is lying to you

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Jessica Rapana
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Virgin River actor Alexandra Breckenridge has opened up about feelings of self-doubt, and how she has learned to see her worth.

Have you ever felt like everyone else in the room is smarter than you? Or have you questioned your self-worth? You’re not alone. In fact, you’re in good company.

In today’s social media-driven, highly-curated world, impostor syndrome is rife and can strike anyone, from former First Lady Michelle Obama to actor Emma Watson. Which is why when someone confesses to feeling the same way, be it someone in the public eye or your best mate, it can feel as though a weight has been lifted. 

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If you’ve been watching feel-good Netflix series Virgin River, you will be well-acquainted with Alexandra Breckenridge, who stars in the new series as nurse practitioner Melissa Monroe (if not: seriously? You’re missing out). Or maybe you’ve seen her on the award-winning NBC show This Is Us, in which she plays Sophie, Kevin’s childhood sweetheart and on-again off-again love interest.

In other words, Breckenridge is currently on two of the most talked-about TV shows of 2020 and yet, despite her success, she still feels like she is not enough.

Posting a photo of her 16-year-old self on Instagram, Breckenridge described how far she had come since the photo was taken. She wrote: “This happens to me a lot. I think I’m not as smart or pretty or talented or as skinny as almost everyone else in my business. Then I get older and I see a photo of myself from that time, that year, that day, that I thought those things about myself.”

She continued, “And now I see the smart, fun, talented, beautiful woman that I was and still am and I think. Damn. When am I ever going to get it? Still trying to this day. I still doubt myself all the time. But what I can say is that I love myself. That is the most important place to start. The rest of it really shouldn’t matter.”

Her words prompted hundreds of responses, with many of her followers admitting to feeling the same.

“This is exactly how I feel every day of my life, and then I look at you and think: she is so beautiful and talented, I wish I was just like her!” someone wrote. “I honestly can’t believe that you could ever doubt yourself, but it’s also comforting to see that even the most successful people struggle sometimes.”

Another commented: “So crazy because I always think of you as one of the most beautiful and unique looking actresses in the game. Not that beauty is the ultimate gift, but you’ve got it in spades.”

Breckenridge is not the first woman in the spotlight to share her self-worth struggles. In a letter to her younger self, Obama wrote: “Even now, after you reached your goal, you’re still not quite sure if you belong and can’t get one question out of your mind: Am I good enough? There aren’t many kids here who look like you. Some arrived on campus in limousines. One of your classmates is a bona fide movie sat, another is rumoured to be a real-life princess. Meanwhile, you dot dropped off by your father in the family sedan.”

Lupita Nyong’o shared her self doubt during an interview with Time Out, saying: “What’s it called when you have a disease and it keeps recurring? I go through pacute impostor syndrome] with every role. I think winning an Oscar may in fact have made it worse. Now I’ve achieved this, what am I going to do next? What do I strive for? Then I remember that I didn’t get into acting for accolades, I got into it for the joy of telling stories.”

Emma Watson has responded to the "self-partnering" reaction while promoting

Emma Watson has spoken about her impostor syndrome

Meanwhile, Emma Watson told Rookie: “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved. I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are’.”

By all accounts, most of us are prone to feeling like we’re behind the curve or somehow less valuable than those around us. And yet, as Breckenridge points out, when we eventually look back, we will realise we were always more than enough: we just didn’t realise it.

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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