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imposter syndrome and anxiety

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Have you heard the term “imposter syndrome” thrown around? The first time I heard it my skin crawled a bit because I had a feeling that I may have it. But then I felt a bit better when I discovered that most people have imposter syndrome, at least in the beginning of their careers, and during those first few big breaks. In fact, if you never suffer from any degree of the syndrome, you may be a bit of a, um, narcissist. Just a little bit. Any moderately modest human being doesn’t just think, “Yup, makes sense” when something huge and great happens. Knowing just how many other people out there wanted it, just what the odds were, and just what you’re up against is bound to make you have some thoughts of, “Really? Me? Are you sure?” And that’s imposter syndrome.


Even some of the most successful people have it, well into their careers—decades after there is no question as to whether or not they are geniuses, and as to whether or not they’ve earned their accolades. A very well-known director I know, whom I shall not name, has told me that, to this day, after putting out several block buster films, he still sits in his office and thinks that, at any time, somebody—some committee—will bust in, take down all of his awards, and tell him, “We made a mistake. These weren’t for you.”


So, if someone that big can feel that way, it’s only natural that a mere civilian like me, and perhaps you, may feel that way, too, when your career picks up. It’s okay to allow that feeling to stay for a while, but don’t let it stay forever. You do deserve what you get, and you should project that. It’s a part of future success. Do you have imposter syndrome? Here are some signs.


You downplay your accomplishments

When someone tells you they saw your work, heard about your accomplishment, or found out you’re killing the game, you become very sheepish. You don’t want to admit that they’re right—that you’re doing well. You fear that you’ll have some big downfall, and then you’ll feel stupid for having accepted the praise. So you downplay your accomplishments, and won’t even take the compliment.

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