Posts Tagged ‘#notyet’

Today’s entry for #ThingsILike is Impostor Syndrome. Let me be clear, I don’t enjoy feeling like a fraud. What I do like is that I’m not alone when I do. My advisor introduced me to the term in grad school and gave me a gift: he told me that practically everyone at our prestigious and accomplished institution had it. It just wasn’t something people talked about.

Ok, maybe what I really like is the fact that the today’s connectivity means I don’t feel like the only one, be it re: impostor syndrome or sci-fi fandom, POC or what have you. Still, today is as good a time for a pep talk as any. Let’s get to it:)

A lot of people feel like frauds at some point in their lives. The topic came up for me this week because Mary Robinette Kowal has a good piece about it on her site. (If her gaming analogy doesn’t work for you feel free to come up with your own.)

Have you ever felt like a fake, attributed your accomplishments to luck or some external reason, or downplayed your success even though on paper you might look pretty darn impressive? If you’re asking yourself “Who hasn’t?” well, you know about impostor syndrome.

(Quick, here’s a pretty picture to keep your spirits up. That’s you, taking in the view on your way to the top. It only looks like someone else’s behind:)

Impostor syndrome is so common that CalTech has a page on it for its students, and everyone from Forbes to Geek Feminism Wiki to the American Psychological Association wants to help people work through it. (And that’s just from the first Google search page:)

I like Mary’s take on impostor syndrome as a way to tell that you are making progress, working hard, and facing down problems that feel too big to handle. (The key here is “feel.” Feels are fine and all but emotion is interpretation, and not necessarily fact.)

Impostor Syndrome means that you are winning.

I think that’s great.

Speaking of progress and how to make more of it, there’s a great TED talk with relevance here. Rather than seeing challenges as a binary yes or no, can I or can’t I? Carol Dweck argues that it helps to think about targets as yes or not yet. That “yet” is the crucial modifier. The brain is built to learn, you just have to chill out, keep going and give yourself a chance.

Do that, and not yet can become yesterday’s accomplishment. Now I’m off to take my own advice:)

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