The key to getting over imposter syndrome is to know everyone else is an imposter too. Tell yourself you deserve a stake in the scam they’re all running.
Ummmm excuse me but this is fucking brilliant.
Did you just cure imposter syndrome with… spite?
You can cure a LOT with spite.
Neil Gaiman on impostor syndrome.
Many years back, a seasoned publishing vet who had been CEO of two major houses told me an interesting story about some of the authors he had worked with. He told me that the smartest authors were always deeply insecure. You couldn’t always tell, but deep down, these authors felt that they were frauds and that they really didn’t have the intellectual capacities others thought they did. They lived in constant fear of being revealed for the mediocre minds they felt they really were.
I found this factoid very interesting and decided to dig a little deeper to see if there was any truth to it.
There is, apparently.
It’s called the Impostor Syndrome, and it’s found in just about every industry and corner in the world. Successful and intelligent people are often unable to accept their achievements and intellect. They become concerned that they haven’t actually earned any of their accolades and are phonies. Many have argued that this comes from the old Socratic mantra, “The more you know, the more you know of how little you know.” Smart people are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things they don’t know in comparison to what they do and so feel undeserving of praise or recognition.
While I will not name names, you would be amazed at some of the authors I have gotten to know who have confessed (albeit indirectly) to feeling that they were probably just in the right place at the right time to earn the recognition that they had. In all of the cases, these authors were being completely silly, of course, but it’s amazing how deep down their uncertainty goes. Even when I do tell them about the Impostor Syndrome, they remain unmoved (which makes sense given that diagnosing a problem doesn’t always solve it).
Still, one question kept burning inside me. I asked a psychiatrist friend of mine about a potential hole in this theory. What if I genuinely was a fraud and didn’t have the intellectual capital I was credited with? In that case, thinking that I’m a fraud is not a syndrome but just the plain truth! My friend responded that such a thing is possible, but unlikely:
“Only smart people question themselves and their abilities because only smart people realize how little they know. People of average or less intelligence don’t know how little they know, or they don’t care — or they think they know everything. Either way, they don’t see the need to question themselves.”