“Learning to Deal With the Impostor Syndrome”

“Two American psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, gave it a name in 1978: the impostor syndrome. They described it as a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” While these people “are highly motivated to achieve,” they also “live in fear of being ‘found out’ or exposed as frauds.” Sound familiar?…
I think part of the impostor syndrome comes from a natural sense of humility about our work. That’s healthy, but it can easily cross the line into paralyzing fear. When we have a skill or talent that has come naturally we tend to discount its value.
Why is that? Well, we often hesitate to believe that what’s natural, maybe even easy for us, can offer any value to the world. In fact, the very act of being really good at something can lead us to discount its value. But after spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?
All of this leads to the final and most important step: learning how to live with the impostor syndrome.”

There is this American thing about “fixing” everything, curing ourselves of every identified problem, hating ourselves when it hasn’t been fixed or cured because that means we’ve been weak and haven’t worked hard enough.

So I think it’s really important to reflect on this last sentence that I pulled — that we can do a lot of things to diminish it, but we also have to learn to live with some of it.

Related: “Does the myth of the solo genius scientist contribute to imposter syndrome?”; “The Alarming New Research on Perfectionism

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