Fugeelah by Dhani Illiani is a collaboration driven to start a conversation on Imposter Syndrome (IS) which means believing that you are an inadequate failure, despite evidence that shows you are skilled and successful. According to research, IS is experienced by 7 out of 10 people. 

This collaboration was inspired by a panel discussion hosted by Fugeelah founder Deborah Henry with Michelle Obama and Julia Roberts at the inaugural “Leaders: Asia-Pacific,” event which addressed how there are moments where we feel like we are not good enough to be in the room or to have a voice.

The collection will feature t-shirt designs and a special edition tote bag. Each piece, an artwork in itself, has been designed exclusively for Fugeelah by Dhan Illiani is dedicated to be a reminder that we are NOT our thoughts. As part of this campaign, Fugeelah interviewed five women from different backgrounds to gather their insights and thoughts on Imposter Syndrome. 


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? 

JANUARY: A full-time mother and dancer [who specializes] in Odissi, an Indian classical dance from Eastern India.

SHAREETA: I am a TV host and actress, who lives in KL with my beautiful cat and husband. 

KIT: A Malaysian girl who loves animals, crafting and wine. 

HIKMA: I am a 20-year-old college student from Petaling Jaya. 

ELANA: A Chief Marketing Officer at the MAA     Group. [I am] passionate about empowering young women and making education more accessible to Malaysia’s youth



Had you known of Imposter Syndrome before being part of the campaign?

KIT: I had not, but I most certainly felt it!

SHAREETA: Yes. I have listened to a few interesting podcasts on the topic.


Which one do you relate to most and why?

Types of Imposter Syndrome [IS]

The Perfectionist: I should deliver a perfect performance 100% of the time. My work must always be A+.

The Expert: As the expert, I would already know everything I need to know how to do this. 

The Soloist: I believe true competence is equal to my own achievements without any assistance. I must and need to do everything myself. 

The Superhuman: If I were really confident, I would be able to do it all and do it easily and well. 

The Great Mind/Natural Genius: I judge myself on ease and speed: If i were really competent, it would come quickly and easily.


KIT: The perfectionist. If I have set myself a task, I often feel an expectation that the outcome needs to be perfect. No variances, no imperfections. It has been difficult for me, particularly with work as I would feel incredibly unmotivated if I cannot achieve something and I feel like an absolute failure. It spirals sometimes into feeling like nothing will ever go right so I should not try, and that I will never be good enough. 

HIKMA: I think I relate with The Soloist the most. Looking back I have realised that I prefer doing things on my own because I feel like no one can do the work up to my standards. For example, if I know someone well enough and I were to be in the same group with them in a project, I would give them easier tasks because I prefer doing the harder task myself. I feel like if I ask them for help, they are not able to give me the result I want and they will feel like I could not do the task on my own.

ELANA: Great Mind/Natural Genius resonates with me because I notice that I am hard on myself or question my own ability when I compare how long it takes me to grasp or master something compared to others. I also have habits similar to a perfectionist in that I am definitely my worst critic, while expecting very high standards of myself even though I do not set unrealistic goals. That said, I know I pay a huge amount of attention to detail and take great pride in producing great quality work which is why I am so invested in the things I put my energy into, even though it may take me awhile to get there. 


How do you deal or manage feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy?

JANUARY: It has taken me many years to unlearn these feelings of self-doubt [that] still pop up from time-to-time. However, I am aware that these feelings are created by myself and I allow them to pass. I believe that there are no good or bad feelings, they are all valid and they make me human. 

ELANA: I believe that the better you are at recognizing [your thought patterns] and emotions as they rise up, the easier it gets to manage them, your behaviours in response and discover what underlies that feeling. I meditate daily, journal often, and prioritise alone time which gives me the space to think which have really helped me work through some of my own behaviours. 


Finish the sentence – “Dear Imposter Syndrome,…..”

JANUARY: Dear Imposter Syndrome, I see you, but I would like to release the power you have over me.

SHAREETA: Dear Imposter Syndrome, you have overstayed your welcome.

KIT: Dear Imposter Syndrome, you are not in control of me and what I do.

HIKMA: Dear Imposter Syndrome, it is hard to keep forcing these negative thoughts out of my mind when they want to stay. But all these negative thoughts come from you, imposter syndrome and I really wish we humans won’t need to deal with this but it is a part of us. 

ELANA: Dear Imposter Syndrome, as much as I would like to see you go away, I know that you are just a part of everyday life and something that everyone has felt at some point in their lives. You are important in helping people think about their identity which spills over into how people behave and become.


If you could be Imposter Syndrome-free, what would you be?

JANUARY: Exactly who I am meant to be.

SHAREETA: An author.

KIT: Hopefully a bad ass boss lady!

HIKMA: Honestly, I would have been a performer. I’ve always wanted to dance in front of a crowd such as being in musicals. 

ELANA: I would be unbeatable, relentless in achieving what I set out to do. I would easily be able to ask for help and reach out to people without worrying about what they might think. 

Is ‘Self-Doubt’ always a bad thing?

SHAREETA:  It is perfectly fine to question yourself. [Self-Doubt] keeps your feet firmly on the ground, and allows you to reassess the way you are feeling or doing things. As long as you keep it in check and know that doubt does not equal incompetence or unworthiness. It just means you have to push past that doubt to achieve what you desire.


HIKMA: Self-doubt is not always a bad thing because sometimes when you feel like you are doubting yourself, you will end up realising that you can do it and this will make you do it more sincerely instead of feeling like you are being forced.


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