Impostor Syndrome


I was recently shown an article by a colleague about the Impostor Syndrome, what do you think he was trying to tell me? On a serious note, it got me thinking, does everyone suffer from this at some point? I certainly do and after discussions with a number of people including the guy who sent the link, I can say that yes, it is a common issue.

I know I think way too often about how I am getting away with a career that shouldn’t be mine. It can’t possibly. I am a marketing graduate who actually has a career in marketing. IMPOSSIBLE! Practically is. Of all my graduating class I believe I know 2 aside from myself working in the industry, but the basis of their career is social marketing. I am lucky in the sense that I get to practice social/digital, trade, consumer, strategy based marketing and so on. The real deal. I feel blessed and sick all at the same time.

I have to remind myself that I deserve the position and career I have. I’ve worked hard for so long, put in the hours and got stuck in the store room of a warehouse for one year too many. So I know I’ve done my share of grunt work. But was it enough? Will it ever be enough?

I don’t know if I warrant a corner office or early promotion and sometimes I really feel like I don’t. I find myself sitting back a lot these days and just shaking my head at the insanity of having completed yet another task or project without having a clue to what I was doing. Not only do I get away with it, but sometimes I do it well!  I always promise myself after these moments that I will follow up by researching something of what I have just accomplished. This way I will be able to honestly communicate on the topic and possibly do better the next time around without enduring the 2 or 3 panic attacks that tend to accompany these things.

What I fail to realise at the time, before, during and after my project, is that I am not actually an impostor. I don’t get away with anything even if it feels that way. If I do something wrong, you bet I’ll be told and if James (OM at work) is the one to find it, not only will I be told, but humiliation or a good poke is in order. And just because I don’t have a formal training in web development, doesn’t mean I can’t develop a website successfully. Sure there were several hiccups, some nerve melting even, but to compensate for my lack of experience, I did go and do a few courses. Just introductory based and the rest of it was learnt on the job. And see right there, thats the lynch pin of this case: I learnt on the job.

I have never lied about my abilities. I have made suggestions that I believe I am capable, but only when I really did believe so. Never overestimate yourself, otherwise you will be an impostor. But if you want to learn something and you do see yourself as capable, than by all means, do as Cassidy mentions:

Be Confident

Communicate and Seek Encouragement

Take Risks

This to me is how we learn. Don’t get me wrong, I have every intention of improving my skills with research and maybe a few additional courses before I run off to London, but if I have learnt anything it is to take the opportunities given in the workplace to broaden my skills. I don’t know how the job market works in London, but I am hoping the best attribute I can bring to the table is my experience. Hopefully that will be enough, otherwise its down to bartending for me. Now that will definitely make me an impostor.


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