Many of you are probably familiar with impostor syndrome, or the fear that deep down that we’re just faking that thing we’re doing, and that sooner or later, someone’s going to find out that we’re faking it and it’s all going to be over. It’s a common thing, and I think many of us have met it, if not as a constant presence, than as a sometime-fear show’s it’s face in unguarded moments.
So I was intrigued when lnhammer pointed me to the Ada Intiative’s (Anti-)Imposter Syndrome Training. Those pages linked to Dreamwidth co-founder Denise Paolucci’s excellent lecture on combating imposter syndrome (there’s also a transcript):
Some useful reminders in there.
And listening to the video sent me down the rabbit warren of seeing what else the Internet had to say about impostor syndrome. I found links across pretty much every field out there, from writing to open source coding to academia to business.
The Caltech Counseling Center’s page talks about three specific categories of imposter syndrome: feeling like a fake, attributing success to luck, and simply discounting success.
Women’s leadership speaker Tara Sophia Mohr talks about how to tell realistic inner judgments from that harsher and more unrealistic/unhelpful inner critic that expresses impostor fears:
I’m getting mixed takes on whether women are more likely to deal with impostor syndrome or simply more likely to admit to and talk about it. But either way, I found this post about university physics students fascinating. A couple of simple 15-minute exercises near the beginning of the course, that do nothing more than have students talk about their values and so affirm their sense of self, closed the gap between male and female performance.
I’m still thinking about that, from multiple directions.
Meanwhile, one of the most useful things for me personally about impostor syndrome has been simply knowing that it’s a Thing, and a common Thing at that. When I look at friends and colleagues at times when they feel like they’re inadequate or faking it, I almost always know they’re wrong. If I were truly as inadequate as I fear in dark moments, how can I possibly be the only one of us to see my inadequacy truly?
I can’t be, that’s how.