Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome?
I’m sure at some point in my career I could be accused of having too much confidence. I think it’s called being cocky, a know-it-all, even the “b” word…bossy. You know what, though, those are the times when I was likely suffering from, not so much imposter syndrome, as imposter disorder. One job in particular comes to mind.
Six months out of college I was an elementary school teacher. I’d spent four years studying to be a teacher, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I found myself in a classroom. What is surprising is that I was teaching science to a bunch of 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. One undergraduate class in teaching science and the Catholic school I’d applied to hired me the week before Christmas vacation!
Of course, it didn’t matter to the kids that I was in over my head. I stayed a few pages ahead of them in the books and had them fooled. And that’s the key to why I called it imposter disorder–fooling them. I taught for only one more year after that; a fourth grade class. In that one too, I felt like an imposter.
I found that latching onto the expression, “Fake it ’til you make it”, several years into my career, was the best way to overcome my imposter disorder. According to Wikipedia, “Fake it ’til you make it” (also called “act as if”) is a common catchphrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence.
Those six words gave me permission to have a learning phase when I started a new job. It was okay for me to not know everything, and okay for other people to know it. Today’s thank you goes out to the originator of the phrase and those who propagated it.