Posts tagged experts
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.

I'm avoiding.

And procrastinating.

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.

xoxo, MJ

PS. Remember this great blog series that also broke down the impostor feeling?

In it for the experts?

On Oct. 15, Martha Stewart was interviewed on Bloomberg. It was one of a zillion interviews she's done. She discussed a variety of topics. Just one topic stood out for me: her thoughts (and her tone) about bloggers.

Who are these bloggers? They're not trained editors and writers at Vogue magazine. I mean, there are bloggers writing recipes that aren't tested, that aren't necessarily very good or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. Bloggers create kind of a popularity. But they are not the experts and we have to understand that.

At 72, Martha Stewart is an empire, a brand, and a downright legend. I respect her for her ideas, her hard work, her ability to find talent and surround herself with it, and her seamless transition from a major life-altering event to a thriving, again-active life.

I'm not a Martha groupie; I've never subscribed to her magazine or purchased one of her books (though I was gifted with one that I love!). I will not deny her genius or her many talents. In fact I was so delighted to be at Martha Stewart's headquarters for AltNYC and to experience the environment on innovation that she creates. I completely appreciate all the accomplishments that Gabrielle points out.

I was also, however, confused by her remarks. Or maybe in my own motherly way, I was disappointed. Her comments seemed short-sighted and small. Generally, I think it's just a bad idea to trash your most supportive community.

Later that day I received a PR email. I'm on a list with millions of others, and I was sent this from "Martha."

Hello MJ,

We all start out in different places on the road to expertise.

And it takes tenacity, proficiency, education, endurance, and ambition to go the extra mile. As bloggers, we know this all too well.

I'm disheartened to hear that some of our blogger friends feel that I'm not supportive of what they do. The blogger community is a vibrant and lively place, and I enjoy watching it grow.

In the ever-evolving online community, each day is another opportunity to garner new skills through new experiences. It's like I always say: When you're through changing, you're through.

I'm thrilled to announce that in the coming days, weeks, and months, we'll be incorporating more of the people who inspire us most on the site. People like you -- bloggers and crafters and American makers -- the people who are making a change.

It's important to continue learning, growing, and working together so the world can be a more beautiful place.

Thank you for all your incredible work.


I realized what it was that was really making me itchy about this whole situation.



Bloggers don't = experts or in some way Bloggers should = experts?

Blogging is a means of communication. Like journals, social media posts, works of art, dancing, music...

To be a "blogger" one must use blogging as a main form of communication (fair to say, right?). No expertise required. Just as my technique with oil paints is not evaluated at the cashier desk of Michael's to ensure I'm sufficiently skilled at painting before I can express and share my artwork, my thoughts this way.

From where I sit, the blogosphere has democratized expression. Should I want to share my best recipe for gingerbread cookies or my conversation with my mom last night or anything else, I have the opportunity to send it out into the world - the potential to share it with anyone I can coax to this blog space.

I don't need to be an expert.

In fact, people might just want to learn more BECAUSE I AM NOT an expert.

Martha for all the goodness she's thrown in the direction of handmade and homemade has spotlighted only the most perfect, refined, and pretty. And I'm not denying that she has come to set the standard high and beautiful.

Maybe, too, she's built a bit of pinorexia (see Meg's post and definition on this one) into the blogging community. That every project, recipe, craft must look fabulously styled in order to be trusted and valued...and good.

But for me - me who is far from expert on anything at all - I visit and revisit blogs to see how other-than experts create and live. I won't deny my desire for an aesthetic that appeals; my eye is intoxicated by design and color. But when needed, Google finds the experts for tasks. I find the kindred spirits with whom I want to share a journey, the experience.

These bloggers are (way more often than not) not experts, humble yet confident speakers who are themselves large enough to ride through imperfections and mistakes.

I'll continue to admire the pristeen that Martha Stewart's brand presents, but I won't be putting, expecting, or even desiring that from my favorite blogs or bloggers.

In fact, I hope none of us put perfection as our goal.

Because if we did blogs would be a whole lot less interesting.

xoxo, MJ