Do you dismiss your accomplishments as “no big deal” or “If I can do it, anybody can”?
Do you agonize over even the smallest flaws in your work or beat yourself up when you make a mistake?
Do you feel crushed by even constructive criticism, seeing it as evidence of your “ineptness?” When you do succeed, do you think, “Phew, I fooled ‘em this time but I may not be so lucky next time.”
If so join the club.
What you’ve just seen is the “Impostor Syndrome” in action. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, you feel inadequate to do the work you’re fully capable of performing. Instead you believe they are somehow “fooling” other people into thinking you’re brighter and more capable than you “know” yourself to be. Deep down you feel like an impostor, fake, and fraud.
The fact is you’re pretty smart. I don’t necessary mean “book smart,” although there’s a good chance that you have at least one degree. In fact you may have two or even three. Some might consider you a high achiever, although it’s unlikely you see yourself that way.
You’re the kind of person who likes to know everything you possibly can about the subject at hand before stepping out there. After all you’re not about to risk speaking up in front of others, going after that plum assignment, or selling yourself as some kind of expert unless you’re totally prepared. I’m not talking here about doing your home work. I’m talking about needing to know 150 percent.
And when you do make a mistake you have a really hard time forgiving yourself. After all, in your mind it’s your failures that really count… so you avoid them at all costs.
Which means you’re probably somewhat of a perfectionist. Not only do you like to get everything just right, but you like to do it right the first time. No first drafts or dry runs for you. You’ve got to nail it right out of the gate. Of course you also have to make it look easy.
That’s not to say that you’re a stranger to hard work. Just the opposite.
You’re probably prone to over-preparing and you may even be a bit of a workaholic. But when it comes to buckling down to tackle the things that really matter – finishing your thesis, starting the big project, acting on that great business idea – you are a master procrastinator.
After all what if you pour yourself into it only to find out you’re not up to the task? Or, worse, what if you actually manage to pull it off… the more you achieve the more they’ll expect it. And if you don’t know how it you did it the first time, how can you possibly repeat your success?
Sure you’ve done pretty well so far. Some may even see you as quite accomplished. But then again you can probably explain all that right? “The stars were right.” “It was a small candidate pool.” “I just had good connections.” No wonder you often feel like you’ve managed to somehow fly under the radar screen undetected and it’s just a matter of time before you’re “found out.”
Am I close?
If so I’d love you to share your own impostor story here.