It might sound a tad cruel, but there’s something strangely reassuring when you notice how much people struggle in situations that you also find difficult. Not that you’d wish ill on other people.
Instead, this reassurance is founded on something quite basic: it’s simply a recognition that you’re not alone.
In fact, it’s easy to see how much belief we hold in others being more adept at coping, at thriving, at being recognised, often in a fast-moving work environment.
But I’ve got a theory – everyone is winging it – even the same model professionals you see yourself aching to be like.
Imposter? Me? No, I’m just like everyone else
I dislike the term imposter syndrome because it sounds like a psychiatric disorder. Instead, there’s a widely held belief that others seem to have a better idea of what they’re doing than we, [the imposter] do.
So, you’re telling me that surgeons, airline pilots and engineers are simply making things up as they go along? Of course, these professionals are not crashing from procedure to procedure – but they are most definitely still winging it in their own ways.
In fact, when you accept that no-one has any idea what’s in store for us – (none of us are mind readers, despite what you hear), our brain sees that as pure and unadulterated uncertainty, and we are all hard-wired to avoid anything that is uncertain. If you don’t believe that premise, ask me again in mid-Feb when your ‘new’ gym membership starts to lapse like the rest of us.
So, much as we all do, these so called ‘high-performing’ professionals can never grasp the whole of the situation they find themselves in, never be sure of what will happen next and, in that respect, like the rest of us, they’re just crossing bridges as they come to them.
Just like you and me.
… and Breathe
It’s terrifying to think there’s no solid ground here, prompting feelings that you’re a fake.
No parent-like figure who’s able to guide you through that certainty that we all crave.
This is one reason people like conspiracy theories: it’s calming to think there are authority figures who must know what they’re talking about, even if their motives are bad ones.
So, my message is simple.
Believe you are truly not alone. We’re all winging it as we go along. So, when you next feel you’re that undeserving ‘imposter’, just remember this…
You’re the best version of you that you possibly can be and failure, yes that awful word many of us dread to hear, is quite simply ‘success that is work in progress’.
Write that on your fridge.