Impostor syndrome (also known as impostorphenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
Thats a straight copy and paste from wikipedia. I thought I’d stick it there just to clarify what is meant by impostor syndrome. Recently I’ve heard this term a lot, both in teacher training and on the Joe Rogan podcast, which has meant I’ve had a few deep conversations around the subject too. A lot of people experience this phenomenon, particularly at work, which I think it interesting our day jobs tend to take up most of our time and therefore most of our daily conversation.
A reason why I think impostor syndrome is becoming more talked about and also more commonly felt amongst people is because we live in an age where we constantly are comparing ourselves to others. Whereas before, you probably weren’t fully aware of what other people were doing or what they did whilst doing it. Your job was just a position that you fulfilled and you had to trust that the job you did was the same as anyone else who did it. There was less daily comparison to others around you, there were less ‘quality control’ style scrutiny from ‘management’ and jobs, in a sense, had more purpose in practicality. technology has opened up a world of comparison not just on an individual level but also the very companies we all work for compare themselves to each other, whereas this happened a lot less before.
Anyway, all this talk of impostor syndrome got me questioning how I feel about my position at work and it made me giggle a little bit. However, it also made me feel a little concerned that maybe I should be a little more humble. My problem with my job position isn’t that I feel I might be a fraud or an imposter in the sense that I feel I am not worthy of my job or that I don’t know what I’m doing. My issue is that I feel like I am in a position not worthy of me.
Now, don’t go throwing me to the wall as an arrogant bastard just yet. I appreciate my cushy teaching position at a HE college where most of my day is spent mimicking Jack Black in the school of rock, except I’m supposed to be playing guitar all day. However, I just feel that I am capable of so much more. That my skill set is worthy of even greater things, that my work ethic and insistent need to do more should be taking me to bigger and better, whatever that might be. My comparison story sees me looking at people who are creators as well as teachers and inspirers, I relate a lot more to these people than I do to any of my colleagues. Except those who also share this vision, I don’t find much in common with my colleagues at all.
I’ve decided to diagnose it as anti-impostor syndrome, in which you feel you’re actually anxious about the fact that your true potential will never be discovered. Now, don’t get me wrong, I intend to do everything possible to ensure I do live out potentials and achieve positions in which I am utilising these skills to the full. However, perhaps its the mentality of the driven mind that keeps me from feeling as though I’m living my potential. Perhaps its just a given fact that I’ll always feel that I can achieve the next level because thats the way I am wired – to want to achieve the next step.
All I can do is try.
Anyway, have you ever felt like an impostor?