Feeling Like An Imposter
I’m a fraud… a total fraud.
Ok, not really. However, there are times when I feel this way.
I’ll be at work planning out a web application and suddenly I’ll feel a wave of anxiety. A voice inside my head will start telling me that I’m not really good at this stuff. After all, the voice says, there are people much better at web development than I am. Therefore, the voice concludes, I must be a total fraud who will be found out and fired soon.
The truth of the matter is that the voice is right in a small way. There are people whose web development skill dwarfs my own. However, that’s true of any pursuit. No matter what you choose to do, there will be someone better at it than you are. Very few people can point at an accomplishment and say "Nobody is better at this than I am."
The voice takes this grain of truth and skews it… spins it until it is proof positive that my web development skill is zero because others surpass me. All of the websites I’ve coded, the applications I’ve written? They’re dismissed by the voice as no proof whatsoever. It must have been luck that enabled me to do all that but one day my luck will run out and I’ll crash and burn.
The voice isn’t just limited to my vocation, but to my parenting skills. It will tell me that I’m not good enough to parent my boys. I lose my temper too much. I don’t know how to handle certain circumstances well enough. I rely on my wife for things that I should know how to do myself.
Again, there’s a grain of truth in this. I do lose my temper more than I’d like to. This mainly takes the form of my Asperger’s butting heads with my NHL’s Asperger’s. Working on controlling this is one of my biggest parenting challenges. I also can be clueless when it comes to handling some circumstances such as navigating school politics. Finally, I do rely on my wife for a lot, but this is true of any marriage. Marriage should be a partnership. Show me a marriage where one spouse does everything and the other does nothing and I’ll show you a marriage that is doomed. Besides, my wife has some strengths in areas where I am weaker and vice versa. Each of us supports the other so that together we are stronger than we would be individually.
Thanks to a pair of humorous tweets by @muskrat_john (of Apples To Apples and Munchkins fame), I now know that this feeling has a name: Imposter Syndrome.
Most days, I’ll push the voice out of my head easily, but other days it is tougher. I’m pretty used to it by now. I’ve battled this for decades and it likely won’t stop anytime soon. I’ve just got to keep my accomplishments in mind and know that I didn’t stumble upon where I am today. I worked hard, made mistakes, learned from them, and gained much knowledge along the way.
Have you ever had to battle feeling like an impostor in your own life?