Putting the Impostor in its place
How is this ever going to get this done? I find myself asking this. Often.
My to do list is no longer or fuller than yours. And, if I'm honest, my feelings have little to do with the amount of tasks I need to accomplish.
Tomorrow, I have a presentation to give on a topic of which I am familiar: social media. I'll deliver it to an attentive audience who's asked some individuals who regularly work in this arena to present. I don't often give presentations these days, and, though I don't have a particular fear of public speaking, I feel ill-prepared, overwhelmed, and I am carefully planning all of the other things I could be doing instead of delivering this presentation.
And there is a voice in my head, that has grown in volume over the last few days, that I might not be qualified. I might be asked questions I don't know the answer to.
I might not be able to do this.
I'm not sure I can do this.
Psychologists give this downward internal conversation a term known as the Impostor Phenomenon. I call it a big dose of self doubt that pops up its ugliness at the most unopportune moments.
It's this sense that, even though you have succeeded and accomplished a certain arena, you are still not qualified... and that others might see you as an "impostor."
Seems that high-achieving women (uh oh) and African Americans are most likely to experience this feeling and grad students as well as faculty on the tenure track feel it, too.
But, guess what?
The quickest, easiest cure for such a phenomenon (or jumbo heap of self doubt)?
"The most effective technique to overcome impostor syndrome is to simply recognize that it exists."
How about that? Just admitting that you don't feel qualified alleviates the problem. I always appreciate when speakers give an early comment something to the effect that they are not experts in their field or that they are always learning and searching... an easy cure of the impostor, I suppose.
Something I've been saying a lot to my children lately is helping me as well. "We're all in this together." St. Catherine of Sienna is quoted as saying, "The only reason to learn is to teach." So really, when we're all in this together, and I am to teach what I have learned, how can we lose?
And if you are in this with me, and you teach me what you know, then we move forward together.
So I've created my first slide. I've set the imposter in its place:
Ancora Impara, always learning
I look forward to all that you have to teach me. And I have a few things I want to teach as well.
PS. Remember this great blog series that also broke down the impostor feeling?