Impostor syndrome – is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Surely, I can’t be alone on this one? 24 years of age and throughout my teenage to life up until a few months ago, I was suffering from some severe imposter’s syndrome.
No, I am not a doctor, but I’ve read about it on the internet and self-diagnosed myself, so that’s that.
The amount of times I have been in situations and been crapping myself about getting found out as a fraud is incredible. I will give three examples.
The first time I probably realised I may be in danger of getting found out was in 2014. I blagged an internship at channel 5 in their press office. I remember on the application for the position I was giving it all the big talk about how good I was with social media and Photoshop, how much knowledge I had of channel 5, how good I was on the telephone, etc.
Listen. In 2014, I was around 19. Ask me if I had properly worked in an office before. Ask me if I even knew how to open Photoshop, let alone operate it. My blagging on the application got me a telephone interview and whatever I said on the telephone worked. All I remember is that I put on my best
Caucasian professional voice and that was enough to get me hired, without even having to meet the interviewer in person.
I remember the first day I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. On my first lunch-break, I went to the toilets and my heart was pounding, I was just waiting for someone to pull me aside like ‘I am sorry Shaun, but this isn’t going to work out, buddy’. In the end, it was fine. One thing that’s true on my CV is that I am a quick learner. I just kept my head down and saw the internship through. Fast forward, and at the end of my time at Channel 5, I was taken for a drink and informed that I was the best intern they’ve had and also the best-dressed too.
Fair enough, I could accept the best-dressed compliment because I know I do my ting (lol). However, in terms of being the best intern they’ve had, all I could think about is how bad the quality of interns they’ve probably had was. All-in-all, it was a positive experience, and I am still in contact with many of the team to this day.
The second time I was definitely in danger of being found out was in during my time at a huge investment bank based in London. First-things-first, I had no business being in a bank. I was never the best with numbers and at the time I didn’t think I would want to work in finance when I got older. I don’t know how I got an internship at this place, but I got there, and that’s the main thing. I remember during the internship I was working on the trading-floor and AML (anti-money laundering) dept. Once again, at the start, I did not know what was going on. Long story short, the internship came to an end, and I didn’t “get found out”. Unlike my daydreams, I didn’t get escorted out of the premises by security having been exposed as a fraud. Instead, I was complimented on my competency and array of attributes, handed several business cards and LinkedIn requests… Can you see a pattern developing?
The final example I will give is my master’s degree. I am still studying at this uni, so I am reluctant to get ahead of myself, but what I will say is I have made it through my first semester with some very respectable grades.
If I am being honest, I don’t know how I got admitted to my master’s degree. Yes, I got good grades during my BA degree, but the subjects/disciplines are very, very different. When I applied for my master’s degree, I remember the application stated that only degrees from the following disciplines would be admitted: Social Sciences, Law, History (and something else that escapes my memory). Ask me if my BA degree was from any of those disciplines? Now, ask me if my lack of qualifications stopped me from getting applying? When I got the email to say I was accepted, I was surprised, but I wasn’t confused. Okay, the first few lectures I was waiting for the tap on the shoulder, but it didn’t take long to realise I was just as, if not more deserving of my place on course as my counterparts. One thing I have learnt over the years is that you make your own luck. It’s only after starting my master’s degree where I have realised that maybe I am not a fraud, and I deserve to be in the good position that I am. So as of now, I have un-diagnosed myself of imposter syndrome and I look forward to a prosperous life of feeling deserving of all the opportunities I create for myself.
I don’t know, but maybe, just maybe the real imposters are people like:
Hopefully, it is only a matter of time before they are ‘found out’.