Imposter syndrome—that feeling of not being good enough, of severe inadequacy and self-doubt that leaves us feeling like a “fraud”, wondering and waiting for the day we will be exposed, when others will see that we are not smart enough for the work that we do.
It’s an irrational feeling, but knowing this, have not shielded us from feeling exactly like that. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve felt like that.
One of the times was when I won the second prize in a short story competition. I was happy but bigger than that feeling of happiness is the irrational feeling of utter disbelief. Irrational because I worked hard on my entry story, Omotara, and I knew I deserved to win, yet this feeling plagued me. For every time someone told me how wonderful the story was, I would go re-read it.
The description of my story, Omotara, and of me, its author on the page of the contest organisers left me wondering who it was they were describing and if they were not over-hyping the story I had written. No way, that was me, I thought. But it was.
You see, the imposter syndrome is like an out of body experience. It gets us feeling like it wasn’t us that did what we did, instead, that we are mere spectators of our accomplishments. It gets us to doubt our accomplishments and our talents and often attempts to cripple us with a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.
I don’t pretend to fully understand why this is so, but what is certain is that it happens to the best of us but we should never let it get the best of us.
What is your imposter syndrome story?
Or are you part of the exempted few?
*Originally published 18 September 2020