This month’s blog topic is not directly related to audio. Yet it relates to our work and everyday life. It is a topic I have been thinking a lot about lately and one I hope others find educational or can relate to.
One evening, I was talking to a good friend about work and our successes. I’ve had some important accomplishments recently, and I was telling her how I felt undeserving of the recognition. I feared that soon, someone would point out how I didn’t know what I was doing. She said, look up impostor syndrome.
As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, impostor syndrome “is the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve the praise or success.” Great, I thought. There is a word to explain how I feel, but why do I feel this way? As I began looking into this, I’ve learned more about the syndrome and myself.
Impostor syndrome was introduced in a 1978 research paper by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Ament Imes titled “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women.” From the abstract: “Certain early family dynamics and later introjection of societal sex-role stereotyping appear to contribute significantly to the development of the impostor phenomenon. Despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the impostor phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.” Clance and Imes aimed their research at how the syndrome affects women, yet further studies have since shown that many men also suffer from the phenomenon. Why do so many of us feel this way?
I believe that part of it, for me, is confidence and insecurity. I understand deep down that I know what I am doing, but there’s that subconscious nagging jerk tapping me on the shoulder saying “But you don’t really understand this thing. Everyone else understands it and will figure out soon enough that you don’t.”
In creative industries, it’s especially tough as your work is very subjective, yet constantly scrutinized. When you get positive feedback you think, that must have just been luck. And of course, there can be negative comments from people jealous of your successes that help crush you even further.
I try to push myself through these moments of insecurity by doing the things that feel uncomfortable. Writing these blogs, for instance, is not a comfortable thing for me. No matter how well I write a blog, someone is going to point out a mistake and figure out that I don’t actually know what I’m talking about. And why would anyone want to read what I have to say, anyways? I persist because positive feedback fuels my confidence in my knowledge, and negative feedback fuels my pursuit of knowledge and growth even further.
If this subject interests you as well, I encourage you to check out Valerie Young at http://www.impostorsyndrome.com. She has some great resources in her blog that may help you understand and work with your impostor syndrome. (I found this one particularly helpful: https://impostorsyndrome.com/are-creative-people-more-susceptible-to-impostor-syndrome/)