Very Excellent Habits

Imposter Syndrome: How To Not Let It Hold You Back


‘Oh my god for real? Do you blog for a job? That’s SO COOL!!! How come you get to do that? Do heaps of people read your blog?’ 

I was at a pub for a mate’s birthday and I just met a whole table of new people and the first thing people always ask you is what you do for work.

‘Uh… I wouldn’t say heaps, but enough that it kind of works. I’m pretty lucky I guess… what do you do?’

On the way home Mr Smaggle gently chastised me.

‘Whenever you tell someone you write for a living, you always downplay it like it happened by accident.’

I replied ‘Well it kind of did happen by accident…’

He then pointed out that I have a double degree in Education and Arts with majors in English and Journalism. I have over a decade of digital writing experience and I’ve been published and featured in dozens of magazines and newspapers. None of that was accidental.

It feels so freaking weird writing about this because I have such severe imposter syndrome, I don’t even feel like I’ve achieved enough to warrant HAVING imposter syndrome and then actually writing about it. How totally backwards is that?

If you’re wondering what imposter syndrome is, here’s a rundown. The telltale sign of impostor syndrome is a disconnect between perceived and actual performance. “Impostors” have ample objective evidence that they are doing well—good performance reports, promotion history, grades, etc. Yet they feel that somehow they’ve been faking it or skating along on thin ice. Any minute now, they are going to be unmasked and revealed to be a fraud.

One striking characteristic of the syndrome is that, although impostors crave acknowledgement and praise for their accomplishments, they do not feel comfortable when they receive it. Instead, praise makes them feel anxious because they secretly feel they do not deserve it. After all, they think, I’m just faking it—unlike everyone else here who seems to know what they’re doing.

It’s also very much an internalised thing. ‘Imposters’ seem (and usually are) very capable and confident but they’re constantly second-guessing themselves and worrying about being exposed.

If any of this sounds familiar, you need to listen to this week’s episode of Straight & Curly – it’s all about imposter syndrome and how to deal with it.

Also I tell Kelly some kind of big news and she totally freaks out. Very worth a listen.

Do you suffer from imposter syndrome?

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