Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Im-Poster Child for Insecurity

Pittsburgh blogger Jayesel (pronounced Jay-ess-el) wrote a post this week about “Imposter Syndrome.”  Red Pen Mama also chimed in on the subject, on her blog.

Jayesel defined “Imposter Syndrome” like this: “…it’s the phenomenon (particularly among overachievers), where we are in complete denial of our gifts and skills- too wrapped up in hoping nobody finds us out as IMPOSTERS, so filled with self-doubt that it often clouds our ability to do our jobs well, even if we are truly talented and good at them.” 

Further, she brought up how so many people have trouble accepting compliments on things the do well.  She then went on to list 7 things that she is good at and asked her readers to do the same.

I commented on Jayesel’s post, but as you know, I’m not too proud to stoop to a little self-plagiarizing if I can co-opt it for a cheap post idea. 

I totally identify with Imposter Syndrome. Any second, I expect someone to come in and go, “What are YOU doing here, working for this respected company in this nice office building?” and whisk me away…  In the back of my mind, there’s the ever-present fear that someone in charge is going to realize that I’m not nearly as clever as I may seem and that I would serve society so much better if I were off doing some kind of manual labor that features the use of long-handled tools.

I think we deflect praise in order to appear humble. Since I was a kid, I hated being around braggarts. I figure, if you’re good at something, I’ll notice… if you have to tell me about it, you must not be that good.  I am aggressively unimpressed by people that constantly toot their own horn, so consequently, I have a hard time doing so myself.

For example, I sometimes get told I’m a good photographer (of anything but people). I always feel funny about that… I usually point out that the sunset (or forest or flower or pond…) was already there looking beautiful and I just happened by and snapped the picture.  I liken it to the rooster taking credit for the dawn.

I know that’s not exactly true… I have to recognize the photographic potential in a scene, frame it in an aesthetically pleasing fashion and take the shot without jiggling.  Oh, and I have to have the forethought to have my camera with me!
OK, I may not have created the pond, but I did realize that the flower, upright in the foreground, would be a cool contrast to the upside down reflection from the pond.

But OK, to follow through with the original request, here are some things I’m good at:

1.  I can write things that make people laugh.  I’m hopeful that if you’ve been reading me a while, you’ve noticed that about me.  When I was younger, I was more of a performer, but I never felt comfortable in that role.  I love the crafting of a funny line and getting it out there.  The drawback is you don’t have that instant feedback that comes from live performing.  That’s why blog comments are so important.  I admit it.  I'm a feedback whore.

2.  I’m good at finding flaws in logic and picking apart an argument.  Chalk it up to a basic logic class in high school and a couple critical thinking classes in college.  That’s why political ads, speeches and Fox News get me in such a twist.  I can recognize so many of the devices being used… the misdirection, the loaded language, misleading statistics, skewed imagery, etc. 

3.  To go right along with that, I have a very healthy skepticism.  Being skeptical leads directly to the finding of facts.  Influence-peddling media of all leanings prey on the fact that most people will believe what they’re told from a position of authority, especially if it supports what they want to believe.

4.  I can reach things on high shelves.  I swear, that’s why my parents bred me this way.  Someone has to be able to reach the cobwebs, paint the ceiling, or put the top ornament on the tree.

5.  I take a nice landscape picture.  (See above.)  The rub is that I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’m sometimes told that I have some kind of eye for composition.  I don’t even know what that means.  I just take a shot that looks interesting.  I guess it works…

6.  I don’t usually hold a grudge, unless it’s reeeeeeeally earned.  I can get pretty pissed off at someone, but over the years, I’ve learned that it just takes too much work to stay angry.  Once I get a little distance… maybe an hour, maybe a day, maybe a month or a year, but eventually I’m back to square one and all is cool.  If my dating past taught me anything, it’s that the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.  Once you reach that, it’s easy to slough off the hurt.

7.  I’m good at coming up with ways to do things efficiently.  I did
a post on this once… I’m forever in search of the best way to do things, and more often than not, I’ve found it for things I have to do with any regularity.

So there… that’s what I’m good at.

Now, the things I need to work on… much longer list.

And it starts with “brevity.”

27 comments:

  1. Thanks Jenn,
    Love your site too... been reading it for ages.

    Thanks for visiting!

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  3. You are also fair, perceptive, and honest. Maybe those are not things you're good at, but they are who you are, and they help your talents shine through.

    ps. I deleted the last comment because it didn't say what I wanted it to say. See ya!

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  4. Well done. :) And, as per, thanks for the shout-out.

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  5. Those are seven great characteristics! And I love the photo.

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  6. I have found that when people tell you that you are good at something (esp. non-expert-kind-of-people) it is because you are better than all the people they know who can't do that at all. It's not because you are better then other people who actually have the same skill. That inflates our ego until we get out into the world and find out the truth: that Aunt Betty might not have know what the hell she was talking about when she said I was so good at something.

    Thus, the imposter syndrome. But that's just my incredible skill at breaking down complex issues into simples stereotypes.

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  7. That is a gorgeous picture, the flower and reflection make it very eye catching, but I'm no expert either. I say if it's something natural, that you enjoy doing, then you definitely have a talent.

    Love your list and attitude. Doesn't seem like much gets you down, or gets by you. Great qualities to have. :-)

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  8. I agree with all the above comments, first of all. Secondly, you are a good friend. Sincerely.

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  9. RPM,
    Thanks for the inspiration, RPM! If it wasn’t for your post, I probably would have left it as posting a comment to Jayesel.

    Maybe Thing I’m Good At #8 should be “Gives credit where credit is due.”

    Jessica R(abbit)
    Thank you! See that’s my new effort to just accept compliments without trying to diffuse them.

    That picture is one of my all-time favorites. I was out for a morning walk around a friend’s place out in the country and came across a very still, glassy pond. The reflections were dazzling. This was one of the few times I did something other than “just snap the picture.” The other shots I took were more traditional, that included both the trees and the pond reflection. On this one, I decided to cut out the actual trees and just get the reflection, with those lone flowers in the foreground. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out until I got it home and downloaded onto the PC. Then it was like, “Wow!”

    Bagger,
    That makes perfect sense to me. Always “consider the source.”

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  10. Angelia,
    Thank you! Good to have you visit again.

    Attitude… yeah I have plenty of attitude, all right…

    There it plenty that gets me down though… but I try to keep it out of my blog. No use in whining about stuff you can’t do anything about… I prefer to use this site as a fun place to go… political bitching aside!

    Cassie,
    And that’s RL friends, at that. Cuz, y’know… we sat beside each other for 2 hours, yo!

    Now the next time I’m feeling sad and blue, I know what page I’m going to revisit!

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  11. I love this! I'm very familiar with imposter syndrome. I constantly tell my bosses that I'm not nearly the gifted attorney they think I am, even though their praise is based on my work product. I just figure I'm good at faking it.

    This is an excellent idea - embracing your attributes and being proud of it.

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  12. Faux Trixie, esq.
    I'm glad you approve. But all props go to Jayesel, for starting the whole shebang. (or maybe I should spell that "shAbang"...the other way looks like it means something I do not intend for this forum.)

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  13. I totally get this syndrome, and agree that your photograph is gorgeous. Doesn't everybody have a little of this? For years, I've had a fall back profession picked out, you know, just in case.

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  14. DG,
    That was pretty much Jayesel's original point. We all feel like that, but it's a learned behavior. As kids, we think we're the best at everything. Then things change...

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  15. Whenever I create a piece of art that jumps off the canvas and into the arms of a buyer, I think the same thing! I feel like I got away with something that I don't deserve.

    Rod used to feel the same way when he was working, first as a stock broker, and then as a salesman.

    If you knew what both our childhoods were like (you know mine, but not his), you would know that this comes from the insecurity that we felt as children.

    And as for the things you need to work on, Shakespeare said, "Brevity is the soul of wit." I don't see this as an issue for you because I love your writing--I'm just sayin'....

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  16. Could you come over to my house and reach some things for me? (I'm not quite five-foot-two.)

    I think you're funny and intuitive and inspirational.

    As far as my own good points? Well, I'm an incredible judge of character.

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  17. "Brevity is the soul of wit." I love that.

    I remember a quote, (but not the speaker), that once wrote something like:

    "I'm sorry I wrote you such a long letter... I didn't have time to write you a shorter one."

    That's definitely my problem. But sometimes, the story is just takes that much space...

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  18. Sherry,
    I was also bred for retail work... even now as just a random shopper, I'm always getting asked by little old ladies to reach stuff on the top shelves for them. You know, cuz they don't have hops any more...

    And wow, you ARE a great judge of character!

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  19. If you love, "Brevity is the soul of wit", you'll also like knowing the biggest, dullest windbag in drama, Polonius in "Hamlet", said it.
    Now be brief and witty in your list of To Work Ons.

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  20. Awesome, awesome. Love it all, and have much of it in common. I guess like gather with (or seek out) like, yeah?

    You're a terrific writer for exacty what you write about - does that make sense? Really enjoy your posts. This was a great one. :)

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  21. you are good at picking outfits for football games

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  22. Mary Ann,
    Must be one of the Bard’s inside jokes.

    #1 on list of To Work Ons: Don’t be such a gruntie.

    Cristy,
    You’re right on, there. People naturally seek out those they agree with. (Unless they like to argue and antagonize.)

    And thank you.

    Fan,
    Gadzooks! You're right!

    Well... sometimes. It didn't work out very well last year...

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  23. Nice post... i need to add you to my blog list. Your one of the only people who regularly comments. So your good at that too... :-)

    Angie (rantpittsburgh if your on twitter)

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  24. Angie,
    Thanks for visiting and for the blogroll! I appreciate all the help I can get!

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  25. Bluz, I read a quote once that said, "Brevity is the soul of lingerie."

    In most other cases, I believe it is highly overrated. (As evidenced by my own blog.)

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  26. Bachelor Girl,
    Brevity would make a good stripper name.

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