Impostor Syndrome: How to See, Fight, and Learn From It as a Marketer
“Any day now, someone is going to call me out for the fraud I am.”
In fact, the article I last wrote for this very site caused these feelings to creep up once more.
I’m 22, have little experience in my field aside from this past year, and I’m acutely aware of it. Worse still, as our audience grows and both the number and influence of the sites I write for increases, that sense of fraudulent dead looms ever larger.
It’s called impostor syndrome, and it’s an insidious little thing.
However, rather than let this fear overcome me and halt my progress, I’ve worked with my impostor self to gain even greater exposure. In fact, my biggest achievements (so far) were only made possible by recognizing impostor syndrome and using it to my advantage.
So, instead of letting it consume your every thought, read on to see how you can:
- Identify impostor syndrome
- Predict/know when it will hit you
- Fight back
- Use it as an advantage
First, however, you need to know exactly what it is.
What is impostor syndrome?
I first heard of impostor syndrome when reading Ben Brandall’s article on it in July 2016. He talks about the psychologists who coined the phrase (Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes) conducting a study in 1978, showing that high achieving women in particular “share the same tendency to ignore evidence that they’re intelligent and imagine everyone has made a mistake in assuming they are”.
Having said that, later studies have shown (and Clance has admitted) that not only are both genders equally affected, but anyone and everyone has it to some degree.
Having said that, the greater your success, the more likely you are to distance yourself from those achievements in some way. This only makes sense, as massive success equals a bigger distance from the “average.” Indeed, high profile cases of impostor syndrome have been noted among celebrities like Emma Watson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Hanks, and Neil Gaiman.
To summarize what it is:
- You assume that you don’t deserve the success you have
- Everyone has it to a greater or lesser degree
- The greater your achievements, the greater the potential dissonance
Like I said – it’s an insidious concept.
(If you’ll excuse my colleague’s unique brand of Northern English vocabulary…)
To break it down further, impostor syndrome typically has two direct effects:
- Feeling like a fraud, undeserving of your current position
- Disassociating your achievements from your abilities
Depending on how severe the case is, this can lead to anything from insecurity and hesitancy to destroying career paths by passing up on applying for promotions, never starting projects for fear of failure, and endlessly editing to check for mistakes.
It’s not easily dealt with, and it’s unlikely to go away permanently. Knowing this, and knowing that everyone (including you) has these thoughts, how Go to the full article.