So look, this post is going to be a bit of a downer, but I hope we can end it on a somewhat optimistic note.
Throughout my career I was often sure that I would be found out.
I was certain everyone would realize all I can do is speak confidently, or at least confidently enough so as not to be suspected of not understanding anything.
I mean, let’s be honest, if you ask me now to write the formula for normal distribution or the sigmoid function — I won’t be able to do it, and I am certain, without a shadow of a doubt that that’s what I need to know as an analyst.
Now, I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time, even though I try to keep my writing here more professional and less personal (dad jokes are obviously 100% professional.)
Sharing is Caring (but so much more)
The reason I’ve been wanting to write this for so long is mainly because I learned that sharing experience, while it doesn’t necessarily give me personally a sense catharsis, it can create a sense of ‘togetherness’, or more precisely a sense of ‘I’m not alone’ for others.
So, impostor syndrome, right?
By and large, I want to believe we all suffer it in one way or another. We all have moments of insecurity that surface in the least appropriate moments.
For example, if you’re interviewing for several companies, or expecting a periodical feedback talk and need to count your achievements. When it comes to job-searching, I remember (some would say well) the sense of self value from all these attempts to sell myself as so demeaning, that it meshed well with the sense of deception which is impostor syndrome.
When your Imposter syndrome has Imposter syndrome
I would often think to myself I can’t have impostor syndrome, because someone with impostor syndrome wouldn’t actively think he has it — so in fact the reason I think I have impostor syndrome is simply because I’m lazy (Oh boy! When your impostor Syndrome has +5 defense against logic!).
Here I’m going to write where it has a negative effect on me, where, conversely, it has a positive one, and finally — what I try to do in order to monitor it, and maybe you can do the same for yourself (which is how we, maybe, end on a positive note).
So, how is it shit?
The relatively “small” thing about it is our inability to properly evaluate our achievements and failures. It makes us automatically reduce any success, and at the same time intensify every failure.
This lack of proportions influences not only how we perceive our present self, but also how we can perceive our future self — in the form of fear of leaving our shell and fear of handling criticism, from a very protective place.
For me, writing here, running this blog or page, could have been much simpler. While I like writing I don’t like confrontations. Facebook arguments always become horrible sooner or later.
Had I not felt I had something to say, I highly doubt I would have found myself hosting an analysts’ panel or running live sessions or even just teaching or giving any sort of consult.
And yes, for me, in my head, each of these is a kind of risk I’m taking, a risk of being discovered for who I truly am.
What are some good things about it?
Well, calling it ‘good’ is like saying it’s good I followed my diet plan because I was sick for a week and couldn’t eat anything (I don’t really have a diet plan, that’s the example that popped into my head).
If I have to consider what positive elements are a by-product of impostor syndrome, there are two things I can point to.
It pushes forward
The need to always out-do myself, that need to really know everything rather than just assume it — it’s exhausting, but one result it has is that it makes me really put in quite a lot of time into “self-improvement” and learning.
It keeps me modest
knowing I don’t know everything, understanding that there can always be someone smarter, more professional, that I can make mistakes (and worse, get caught) makes me more careful, and if there’s something I truly don’t care for, it’s overconfidence in the context of analysis.
How to deal with imposter syndrome?
So, how ‘just remind yourself it’s not true’ works for me is that it doesn’t, and I want to assume, for the sake of argument, that it doesn’t work for you too.
What does work (and even then, no guarantees)?
Compassion towards yourself.
But because I struggle with that, I convert it to compassion towards others.
When I catch myself being too hard on myself for making a mistake or something like that, I try thinking what I would have said to a team member had they done the same mistake. I try to think, without embellishing, without being insincere, how I would treat someone else.
And if hell is other people, I think I try making my environment less hellish. So I’m allowed, at times, to handle my mistakes with a certain level of leniency (as evidenced by the amount of typos I make!)
I know it’s hard, but if you put in the efforts, you are not an imposter – but a person.
I want you all to remember