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- Overcoming Imposter Syndrome - RD254 - Resourceful Designer on 10 Steps You Can Use to Overcome Impostor Syndrome
- firstname.lastname@example.org on Unpacking Michelle Obama’s Impostor Syndrome
- How to stop feeling like an imposter | On Being Human on My Cure for Impostor Syndrome in 1985 – and Now
- How to stop feeling like an imposter | On Being Human on The 5 Types of Impostor Syndrome
I so relate to this. I always feel like I am not enough of an expert, there are smarter people than me. I dream of writing a series of books for kids on first aid, and another one on sharing your state, and a series for kids on childhood diseases that their peers may have and that might frighten them. But where to start while you are earning your paycheck. I want to design fabric too for the projects I use in the books for kids…. too far fetched. Not sure. I think I may have to call for a consult.
You start where everyone does… pick an idea, write an outline — which will change as you go along — then carve out 45 minutes a day to chip away at it realizing that you’ll toss out half of what you write because its all in the editing.
More importanly I encourage you to think about the good you could be doing for others — good that no one will get to benefit from because you’re too afraid or tired to try.
Will there always be others who are “smarter” (hate that word) or know more than you? Yup. Same for all of us. Who cares? No one is going to write your book the way you do.
On the fabric…. check out http://www.surtex.com. This is the annual event in NYC where artists and manufacturers come together to forge licensing agreements. Some of these artists are fabric designers. Where do you think all those designs on wall paper, fabric, upholstery, etc. comes from. Often the artist gets 20 percent.
Also at that same link is a review I did of a children’s book writing program where you work 1-1 with an instructor. Having accountability is another great way to get yourself to follow through when you’re working full time.
Hope this helps Terri!
I just heard your archived interview with Kellie Gardner on her Blog Talk Radio show, I’m 40 years old and I feel like I just exhaled for the first time. To know there’s a “‘name” for this feeling and beliefs I’ve been harboring for years is, well, comforting.
I have two degrees but I’ve never allowed myself to do the work I’ve long felt called to do because I didn’t want to be exploited as the fake I’ve always thought of myself as.
When I was younger I was a violinist and was a natural at it. I kept hearing that and as I got older, my talent slipped further and further until I quit playing altogether. But what happened is I allowed myself to be seduced by the term “natural talent”. Naturals didn’t have to practice… but I was, and I did… because I didn’t, it turned out to prove the self fulfilling prophecy where I believed I wasn’t all that to begin with.
I see how I let that seep into to so many other aspects of my life. I was naturally smart too. What ended up happening is I turned into a relative inactive. Being a natural at so much left me with very little “to do”.
I’ve been feeling a pull to take back MY personal interests without the need for the peanut gallery’s support. I want to support other Christian women in their efforts to do so as well.
Your work is powerful and so necessary. Thank you for sharing and helping to shape my understanding around what in the world happened to the me I might have been. There’s still time… there’s still a me for me to work with.
First thanks for your kind and insightful post Alaina. Yes this notion of the Natural Genius does indeed hamper many people. We come to see true competence as all about ease and speed. So if something becomes difficult or takes concerted effort or practice, then we deem ourselves inept.
We all have gifts. But even the most talented people on the planet continue to work at their craft. I’m not sure if you have had a chance to read the book yet, but if not I strongly recommend Chapter 6: The Competence Rulebook for Mere Mortals. It offers concrete advice for not only the Natural Genius, but the Perfectionist, The Expert, The Rugged Individualist/Soloist, and the Super Woman/Man/Student as well.
Thanks again for sharing your story here. In doing so, you too are helping to change lives!
10 years ago I graduated from nursing school. I changed careers at 38, and went into nursing because it was a relatively short time spent in school, still giving me the time to make good money and catch up on my retirement. Don’t get me wrong, Loved nursing because of the positive effect I could have in people’s lives. But, ever since my first day of work, I started to feel that I wasn’t smart enough to be a nurse, and sooner or later, I would be found out and fired. My annual evaluations were excellent, and my patients truly appreciated my gifts. I have switched jobs in nursing every 2 years and the feelings just grew and became more intense. Being a man, opening up to mentor, I feel I would be considered weak. So here I am 1 1/2 years in to a new job, and I am going through the same self defeating cycle. I am constantly afraid that tomorrow when I arrive for work, I will be fired for being inept. I don’t know what to do.
Wow! After all these years I have a name for what I have been doing to myself, or at least a part of what the many layered mess I find myself in is. I just hope this is not a club reserved for females, as it would seem almost everything out there looks at Imposter Syndrome as a female thing.
I have had 52 years (ok, let’s say 40 years) of feeling <than, couching my precieved ineptitude in self deprecation, avoidance and outright hostility toward myself. No, there has been no self harm, at least on the outside, as this would have exposed the charade, but 40 years of refusal to take credit for my abilities without downplaying them as luck or the deeds of others has left me a shell if a person as I roll into the last third of my life.
I like to think I came by my situation honestly. I started life as not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I was seen as the "special" kid in the neighborhood. The pedagogical term for the likes of me back in the day was "dumb as a sack of hammers" and although deep down I knew and my parents believed I wasnt, I wore the moniker of being the "big dumb kid" as my truth all through my grade school years.
Even though everyone around me thought I was dumb, I kept at it. I graduated from highschool, and eventually University and at the ripe old age of 52 hold a masters degree in education and am a respected member of my education community, but the self doubt continues. Inspite of colleagues, family and strangers outwardly expressing their admiration and respect for my abilities, I live in fear of being found out as a dummy a fraud an imposter.
Todat, my entire persona is based on self deprication. I actively lower peoples expectations of me through self deprecating humour in an effort to deflect from my precieved ineptitude and while people laugh, I can escape into my world of self doubt and solitude.
Pretty messed up eh.
Thanks for taking the time to share your story Keith. I am sure it will resonate with a lot of people.
First things first, for a host of reasons, impostor syndrome is often more common among women — but it is hardly unique to women. Howard Shultz founder and CEO of Starbucks, Tom Hanks, and MANY other men have spoken publically about their own impostor feelings.
I’ve spoken at scores of major organizations from Google to Boeing to NASA and I can tell you, many of the men attending my talks definitely identify as well.
There are many perfectly good reasons why perfectly intelligent, capable, qualified people feel like frauds. As you know, one of them is childhood expectations and messages. Most often these come from parents and/or teachers. But in your case it seems to have come from peers.
Your story breaks my heart. It had to have left such a horrible scar to be mistakenly labeled this way.
All the more so since there are SO many different ways to be “smart” (whatever the hell that means), beyond so-called book-smart.
The wonderful thing about you is that you did keep at it. And effort will always, always, always trump being so-called smart. Look through any yearbook — including your own — and you’ll find plenty of kids who got good grades or had incredible connections based on social class and yet failed to rise to their potential because they lacked effort and perseverance.
Smart is a trap.
There will always be someone who is “smarter” than us and “less smart.” But so what?
In reality, some people are just better at certain subjects or skills. I sucked at math and French. Turns out people for whom math and science come more easily, tend to pick up languages easier. I realize now that I’m highly visual. Not being able to picture math or language made it that much harder for me. But I excelled at art and loved to read. Others did not.
Self-deprecation is indeed a coping mechanism designed to protect you.
You might ask yourself some questions from an exercise in my book:
How does this pattern help you avoid? Maybe humiliation, rejection, increased expectations you worry you can’t meet?
What does this pattern protect you from? Being seen as less than humble, being exposed as a “fraud” (which you are not)
What does this pattern help you get? More support and compliments from the people who express admiration only to have it rejected?
Our pattern is there to help us. Unconsciously you are trying to do the very best you can under the circumstances. So in that respect, we should all appreciate our patterns.
At the same time though, we always pay a price for whatever protection we’re getting. To understand the cost ask youself:
What will happen if I never change this pattern? You will never feel well-earned pride in your accomplishments; never get to realize your full potential
What price will I pay? It keeps you from fully benefiting from constructive feedback that we all need to continue to grow and improve. People may turn off from supporting you because their praise is always rebuffed.
What opportunities and experiences might I miss out on? This pattern robs you of the joy and satisfaction of a job well done. Sooner or later they may lower their own expectations of you which could result in costs to your career and your finances.
Clearly you can answer these questions far better than me.
The point is, you have to ask yourself if you are willing to continue to pay the price for your protection. If not, then you need to experiment with making a change. For example, the next time you feel the urge to put yourself down in front of others, pause and ask if it’s really helpful or necessary.
I hope this is helpful Keith.
p.s. Despite the horrible title Random House gave my book… there is a lot in there that can benefit men as well.
p.s.s I don’t have time to proof this. But I’ve also come to see that we all make mistakes… proofing and otherwise, and guess what? We live.
My name is Dami. I am currently unemployed and live in Nigeria with my mother at the moment. My mother is extremely toxic and abusive. I am 29 but she still hits me and says horrible things to me like “My greatest regret was ever giving birth to you.” “You have nobody else in this life other than me your mother. Me first and everyone else after. Nothing and no one comes between me and my daughter. And just so you know, you are worthless without me.” “No wonder people bully you, you deserve it for being so stupid and worthless.”
Those dark words and other similar ones haunt me and affect me everyday whenever I try to do something for myself. I started a blog and Youtube but I lost motivation because my mum and one of my older sisters told me to my face that nothing I ever do is ever enough.
Mum even said to me about my sisters that none of their work is enough and that they should be much higher than they are. I try to do stuff for myself and words like “You are selfish.” “You are not smart.” Oh and mum’s new current favourite insult , “You need medication for your brain because you keep forgetting things and you are stupid.”
I do feel like a fraud and that I can never succeed.
You are no fraud Dami. And the fact that you have your own website, tells me you’re perfectly capable of achieving things despite the cruel things your mother says.
Although it is doubtful your mother will seek professional mental health counseling, there is something seriously wrong about her behavior towards you which speaks far more about her inadequacies and insecurities than about your intelligence or capabilities.
Still, coming from a parent this has to be devasting Dami.
I realize it may not be easy to get a job. If that is the case, then I encourage you to start a small business of some sort so that you can earn enough to move out of your house and your abusive mother.
Before I sold http://www.ChangingCourse.com in March 2020, for 25 years I offered information, ideas, and inspiration to people who want to make a living without a job.
If you’d like Dami, I can check to see if one of the Profit from Your Passions Career Coaches would do a free brainstorming session with you… Let me know.
You can do anything you set your mind to Dami. Stay strong and take action to put yourself in a healthier position.
Then pray for your mother as she must be in a lot of pain herself to hurt her own child.