Imposter Syndrome

Though directly related to the bold generalist I mentioned above, one of the other areas that I’ve focused on working to counteract and combat heavily in recent years is impostor syndrome that fundamental nagging doubt that both drives us but also leaves us constantly swinging in states of frustrated flux.

The sensation that we’re impostors, that somehow we’ve fooled all those around us into thinking we’re more capable, more gifted, more knowledgeable than we actually are and that at any minute that mistake will be revealed is an inherent challenge for most of us. This is particularly intense among those who have a well-balanced IQ and EQ. While I know it’s normal, especially in peers, many of whom I’ve had numerous conversations with and who are individuals who I have the utmost respect and admiration for, it’s no less easy to deal with.

Imposter Syndrome Photo Gallery

As an expat, in a highly competitive market, with an unusual resume, I found myself torn between a desire to stay in Denmark and the very real opportunities located elsewhere. As part of that process, I applied to more than 150 companies, interviewed with 19 of which 4 took me to the final round only to choose the other candidate. For someone unfamiliar with failure, it was a deeply humbling experience that also led me to develop essential new behaviors and perspectives.

I’ve focused heavily on being diligent in categorizing my successes (recording them and making an actual list I can reference and refer back to) and stopping the emotional undercurrents that feed my own impostor syndrome in its tracks. I am always working to catch myself when I start to undermine myself or second guess, focusing instead on tallying my competencies. Acknowledging it for what it is. Compartmentalizing it. Using it as a natural and useful gut check to ensure I am doing the work I need to, to prepare myself, and then to dismiss the nagging uncertainty.

The result has been a fundamental shift in how I’m centered, respond to issues, and in my own belief in myself and my capability. Which isn’t to say it’s not still a daily struggle. But, it’s now just one thread in a tapestry of motivations and inspirations which serve to push me forward toward new endeavors, challenges, and opportunities.

I find one of the most nefarious elements of imposter syndrome is the utter incoherence of it. I see it most often with my photography where I can, over the course of a week, get featured by National Geographic and then just a few days later entertain thoughts of abandoning photography completely out of frustration and dissatisfaction with photos I’ve captured using artificial reference points or an off-day shooting. Maintaining an archive that I can reference, scroll through, and remind myself with is a wonderful tool for stopping those negative behaviors early. It’s also something that many success-oriented people tend to be extremely bad at creating as they are perpetually chasing the next task or achievement.

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