Fighting Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like a fraud just waiting to be exposed?

(There’s a term for that: imposter syndrome.)

I’ll be honest: I feel that way all the time. I feel like I lucked into my day job (non-fiction editor) without getting the proper educational background or paying my dues before working my way up. Never mind that this is actually the second job I’ve held in the same field (for a total of ten years!), or that the people I work with — other editors as well as clients — seem to think I’m competent.

I also edit fiction over at Turtleduck Press. Again, I don’t have training in what I do there. Many of the skills from my day job are transferable, but editing fiction is a whole different thing with its own learning curve, notwithstanding years of critique groups and creative writing classes. Yet the authors have been known to rave about my editorial comments, and readers seem to be happy with the finished books.

I’ve been known to feel like responsible adulthood is beyond me, despite much evidence to the contrary…but I also know I’m not alone in that.

Another aspect of all of the above: it’s really hard to take criticism, critique, or even the kindest suggestions when the Inner Critic in the back of your brain is ready to take those and run with them to prove that you are indeed a fraud. I’m getting better at silencing the Inner Critic long enough to listen to what’s actually being said and then do something about it. But it’s a long uphill struggle.

So what am I doing to fight that feeling?

For one thing, since I’m a writer, I wrote a short story about it. The Spirit Mask is about a woman who has just come into the role of shaman unexpectedly and is facing her first big challenge in that role.

For another thing, there’s only so much evidence one can ignore until one has to shift one’s worldview to accommodate it. Sure, I still have a lot to learn. But by all objective indicators (and some subjective ones, in the form of family and friends), I seem to be doing pretty damn well.

Or so I tell myself. Some days I even believe it.

Do you suffer from imposter syndrome? How do you fight it?



2 responses to “Fighting Imposter Syndrome

  1. Long ago, I was in a coat room with a friend who hadn’t seen for a while and we were just catching up as we had just arrived at this restaurant for lunch. Casually, cooly, as we each hung our coats, my friend asked, ” how’s the new job? Have they found out about you yet?” That’s when I learned about the Imposter Syndrome. I love this topic… thank you for bringing it out. I believe we are all plagued with it.

  2. That’s a great anecdote! I wonder if you’re right that everyone experiences that feeling. Maybe it’s one of those things that everyone thinks but many people can’t say out loud.

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