Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

School of Informatics People and Culture

School of Informatics People and Culture

Information about People and Culture activities and resources in the School of Informatics

Am I even good enough to have imposter syndrome??

My imposter system is triggered by being praised. Or NOT being praised. Or being asked to do a thing. Or deciding on a new project. Or someone mentioning something I’ve achieved. Or being thanked, or shouted at, or ignored.   Or (and this is my favourite) someone else sharing their experience of imposter syndrome. Because if they do then I listen and think ‘my imposter syndrome isn’t good enough’. I get imposter syndrome about whether or not I experience imposter syndrome.

I find the term massively unhelpful. To me, an imposter is a person posing as someone else to commit some kind of fraud. A syndrome is medical, there’s probably some kind of quarantine and medicine involved, and there’s definitely people in white coats with clipboards. If I don’t tick enough boxes, I don’t have imposter syndrome, so I’m not allowed to talk about imposter syndrome.

The reality is though, imposter syndrome for me is anxiety with a different coat on. It’s anxiety that I’m not good enough, that I don’t know enough, that I don’t deserve this, they’re better than me because I’m rubbish.  Looking at it that way, it makes it a lot easier for me to understand. It explains why some people never experience it, why for some people it’s there in flashes, and for someone like me it’s a constant – I’m an anxious person, so of course I feel like an imposter.

It also makes it easier to understand how it can thrive in an environment like Informatics. This is a busy, high pressured environment where researchers are spending other people’s money to essentially try and improve the world a bit, which is pretty high stakes and anxiety-inducing.  Us professional services staff (PSS) are trying to support that, but we also have to make sure the boxes are ticked, the forms are filled in, etc, and that can lead to us and researchers/academics clashing  and acting in ways that can trigger imposter syndrome/anxiety in others.

The good news is, recognising imposter syndrome and anxiety and knowing that our work environment is a perfect breeding ground for it, also makes it easier to understand how I (and anyone else who sometimes feels like an imposter) can manage it.

I can be kind to myself, and remember that my anxiety lies to me. That person ignoring me doesn’t think I’m an idiot, they’re just busy and don’t understand the importance of the thing I’m asking them to do. Which is fair enough.  When someone thanks me for something I’ve done that’s not proof that I am a brilliant liar and actor and have managed to fool everyone in to thinking I’m doing a good job (this is a thought I have a lot). It’s that I did a good job, and that person thanked me, which is really nice actually.

And  of course, what we can all do for each other is be mindful of the effort we are all putting in in the school at every level.  None of us can do what we do without everyone else doing what they do, academic/research or PSS.  Recognising that more, being grateful and expressing that regularly, will help anyone who ever hears the voice claiming we’re not good enough. We are, and it’s nice to hear that sometimes.

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.