Do you ever have moments where you feel like a fraud? Professionally speaking.
Scenario: You have a career, qualifications that warrant your position, and maybe even a history of notable work accomplishments. But more often than not, you’re waiting for people to realize that you actually don’t know what you’re doing.
This is called Impostor Syndrome and over 70% of people have reported experiencing it at some point. It’s real! It has a name! Interesting, right? So despite outward evidence that they’re great at what they do, millions of people are convinced they’re frauds and undeserving of their place.
In the book The Charisma Myth, author Olivia Fox Cabane reports that every year she asks the incoming class at Stanford Business School, “How many of you in here feel that you are the one mistake that the admissions committee made?” And every year, about two-thirds of the students raise their hands.
Another interesting story. A month before Albert Einstein died, he told a friend, “The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
I have definitely been in the 70%. As a writer, I spend most my days trying to be an articulate, witty, knowledgable, and comprehensive word wizard. And I have spent my fair share of those days waiting for someone to tell me to please quit my day job.
I can’t speak for anyone else at Fifty & Fifty – everyone employed here kicks ass and appears to have zero self-doubt in their talents – but could it be that everyone is walking around with a fear that they’ll be outed as less talented than they seem to be?
So I decided to ask.
EVERY SINGLE PERSON HERE SAID THEY HAVE EXPERIENCED IMPOSTOR SYNDROME. Whaaa?
It’s really beyond comprehension because my co-workers are so justifiably talented. The fact that I find their susceptibility to self-doubt so ridiculous makes me question my own.
So what do to? I feel more and more like it’s just human nature to feel inadequate at times, but if Impostor Syndrome inevitably hits, what can be done? There have been plenty of published reports about how to cope with, overcome, justify, and understand Impostor Syndrome.
But I’m about to throw all that out the window and just tell you how I think we should look at it.
1. Anxiety, fear of failure, and self-doubt can be extremely motivating.
2. There’s a difference between being in over your head & being out of your comfort zone.
3. If you honestly think you’re the best of the best, you’re honestly probably a douchebag. No one likes a know-it-all douchebag.
4. Furthermore, there is beauty in not knowing it all. And even more beauty in owning up to not knowing it all.
5. Humility is better than arrogance.
So what should you take away from this blog post? Well, if you suffer from Impostor Syndrome (past or present), I hope you feel not alone. I hope the fact that giving your onslaught of insecurity a name makes it feel conquerable. I hope it doesn’t repel you from hiring Fifty & Fifty because of their fraudulent writer. I hope you’ll come to realize that the only impostor you ever had to worry about is your fear of people thinking you are one.
“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey
“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.” – Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization
“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeifer
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslet
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “ – Maya Angelou