Impostor Syndrome: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ignorance
Impostor Syndrome is a term coined by the clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in the 1970s. Although the study was originally done with a group of women, it’s a…condition that infiltrates the minds of all genders.
Professionally, I’ve noticed impostor syndrome planting it’s roots particularly firmly in the design world.
Personally, I suffered from Impostor Syndrome for years.
This all changed–to borrow the title from Dr. Strangelove– when I learned to stop worrying and love the ignorance. I found power in embracing my shortcomings and failures as didactic opportunities. Of course the saying, “Knowledge is Power” is true–you need to learn as much as you can about your field–But the biggest change happened in my life when I decided that the ultimate power wasn’t in having to know everything…but being humble enough, and brave enough, to say these three simple words: “I. Don’t. Know.” Once you understand that it’s okay to not know, you’re freed you from the burden of always being “the expert in the room.” The most important part, however, is never resting on the laurels of not knowing. One must be forever curious. Always seeking the answers.
Granted, part of overcoming Impostor Syndrome is being able to truly recognize your achievements. However, I have found that self-adulation only gets you so far—self doubt still seems to creep in—even when you’re trying to battle it with mentally highlighting your successes. That’s why, “I don’t know” has become one of the most powerful statements in my vocabulary–and meaningful statements for my mind. Because at the end of the day, self-awareness beats out self-confidence all day long.