Monday, August 4, 2014

Imposter Syndrome

It occurred to me that I have not yet dealt with the psychosocial barrier of Imposter Syndrome.  This is very common problem with most scholars (perhaps with most adults), to one degree or another.

Imposter Syndrome, which really is not a unitary syndrome  (syndrome sounds so ominous and essentialist), but instead consists of several core beliefs, occurs when we worry about "being found out."  We worry that at some point we will be discovered as being incompetent, not well-trained, uncreative, and even less smart than we believe others see us as. We worry that a day will come when we will be "outed" as fakes, frauds, and Charlestons. Somebody will finally discover we are not as good as others have thought we were.

There are several potential consequences of Imposter Syndrome. Procrastination and not finishing work is one. If we do finish an article or project and subsequently publish it, for example, one will be able to discover how flawed our ideas really are. If we don't publish our work, we can stay outside of the public gaze; there will therefore me no reason for anyone to "out" us. So, best to live in the shows and keep quiet; nobody will critique our work, and find out how awful it really is!

Imposter Syndrome can also lead us to obsessive workaholism. If we drive and push and outwork everyone, nobody will discover our true nature. Nobody will challenge me, as I publish so much!

Perhaps the most tragic consequences lies in our inability to feel good about our work, about our careers, and even ourselves. Impostor Syndrome robs us of our feeling good, whole, and dare I say, proud.

Sorry folks, no easy answer for this one. This is one that you will need to deal with through your own personal growth process, whatever that may be.

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