Impostor Syndrome

“I’m good enough.  I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.”
I feel like I’ve had to say this to myself more often.  The impostor syndrome has been hitting hard lately.  Watching social media, I think it’s been hitting others in the industry as well.  I thought it would be a good topic to write about and research what this “Impostor Syndrome” really means.

I’ve recently switched jobs going from an internal operations IT engineer, to a post-delivery consultant.  I’m meeting new customers on a regular basis discussing issues they are having and helping them make the right business decisions.  Each phone call is like a blind date.  I have no idea what to expect going into the call.

Is the person on the other side going to be smarter than me?  What are they asking of me? What can I provide?

All of these questions start racing through my head and my adrenaline kicks in. My heart starts to pump and my breath starts to shorten. Each time, I have to shake it off, take a deep breath, and make the call.

I hate this feeling.

Is this what Imposter Syndrome is?  To not have the self confidence going into a situation? Before writing this blog, I looked up the definition of Imposter Syndrome and here are few key points that I found interesting.

  • “..two out of five successful people consider themselves frauds..”
  • Impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achievers.
  • “Imposters” avoid showing any confidence in their abilities.

Yes, I understand a lot of people get Impostor Syndrome, but among high-achievers? These should be the people that have the experience and the proof that “they belong”, right? Apparently, not so much. Because high achievers work harder and prepare more than their peers. I can relate to working hard and (over) preparing. I do it all the time.  I engross myself in topics on which I’m less familiar by reading, listening to podcasts by subject experts, and trying out technologies or processes for myself.  I feel like I need to get into the weeds and become that internal subject matter expert to make myself valuable.

The third point hits closest to home for me.  I have such a hard time building up my confidence (I blame my parents 🙂 ).  I’ve always struggled with this.  If I start to believe in my abilities and someone rejects those abilities, it feels like they reject me.  Over the years I’ve started to believe in myself and my abilities, but switching careers shook up what I’ve built. Change has a funny way of doing that.

I don’t have any answers on the third point, but I can tell you some steps I’m taking and hopefully they work out.

I’m not giving up.  I continue to take those nerve-wracking calls.  I’ve learned I need to speak up on those calls instead of sitting back and quietly questioning myself.  Get them out there.  Don’t hold it back.  Kind of like when you were to afraid to ask a question in school and that empty feeling of not knowing afterwards. Was it just me?

I’m volunteering more in the tech community by starting a new VMUG chapter in my community and attending more meetups. I don’t like public speaking so I’m trying to overcome this and face it head on.

My biggest goal is to try to get out of my own way.  I need to get out of my head, own my personal experience and knowledge, and learn as much as I can as I go along. Then I can provide the feedback, answers, expertise, questions, or whatever else I need to do to add value to my clients and grow professionally and personally. Move over Aaron Strong, The Aaron Strong is here.

 

 

 

 

2 Replies to “Impostor Syndrome”

  1. “I’ve learned I need to speak up on those calls instead of sitting back and quietly questioning myself.”

    If you don’t speak up, you won’t be heard. Plain and simple. I’ve definitely struggled with this (being quiet – not sure what, if anything you can add). At the end of the day, if you add something and it is of value, fantastic. If you add something at and it is wrong, then you’ve learned something new.

    Part of growing ourselves is growing our experiences. You can’t grow your experience if you don’t do something new 🙂

    Great post, Aaron.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Matt. I’m struggling with finding that value, but I know I don’t like the feeling afterwards of not speaking up. Thank you very much for the comment.

      Like

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