Monday, August 27, 2012

Imposter Syndrome

I used to have the best boss ever, back when I worked in advertising. Most large advertising agencies, for those who aren't familiar, are sort of similar to child labor camps. They take these young college grads, toss 'em all together, and let them work until they drop. But our office had video games, and a foozball table, and bean bag chairs, and all sorts of other things big and small that could entice us youngsters to stay and work our butts off. My boss, lex, was maybe a year older than me, but she was smarter and wiser and better in every way. Pretty much everything I've ever learned about managing people I learned from her.

Once, when I was stressing about taking on some new responsibility, and she was talking me down off the ledge, we started discussing Imposter Syndrome. She insisted every female has it and most men don't; over time, I've come to think she was probably right, as always.

Imposter Syndrome. That feeling when you're faking your way through your job, pretending you totally know what's going on, when inside you're cringing, waiting for someone to point their finger at you and exclaim "Hey! She's faking it! She has no idea how to do her job."

Moms do it, you know. We all nod and agree when other moms start talking about organic fruit or home schooling or tv rules. But secretly, inside, we're comparing ourselves, thinking "if they knew I feed my kids fruit loops, they'd never invite me back."

We do it on the job, too. We smile and nod and pretend we know exactly what's expected of us, and then, if we're good, we go figure it out, do the job, and breathe a sigh of relief. Fooled them, we think. They have no idea how incompetent I really am.

Imposter Syndrome.

I've got it bad, two days into this new job of mine. I think I'm going to like it, once I figure out what IT actually is. For now, though, I'm smiling and nodding and sounds-great!ing at everyone who stops in my little office. Then they leave, and I frown and think to myself, now, how do I fool them into thinking I know how to do that? They're going to know I'm a total fraud once they figure this out.

But okay. My new coworkers seem smart, and funny, and nice - all good things, right? So I figure they'll give me time to overcome my Imposter Syndrome and start producing actual results.

Now, if only I could figure out how to get those results. Or what, specifically, those results are supposed to be.

Also: a foozball table would be nice.


Popster said... [Reply]

Look at the bright side. Your co-workers are probably suffering the same illness and think you're really the smart one.

Michele said... [Reply]

I have that bad, which means I don't try. Which makes you awesome because you're going through it anyway, knowing what it is, and learning on the way.

Daniela Swider said... [Reply]

You are not alone feeling that way. Lot's of people fake it till they make it, you know... and that's OK. Figuring things out takes a while but I know you'll get there before you know it and you will kick some serious butt.

Please. Write your own stuff.