I don't wish self-doubt and anxiety on anyone, but when I found the quote above and realized that one of the writers and women I respect the most has also experienced the sensation of feeling like a fraud at some point, I breathed something like a sigh of relief-I'm not alone!
I have often had this odd feeling that I'm fooling people into thinking I am capable of doing something that I'm afraid I'm not. This feeling has cropped up in auditions, work situations, creative endeavors, and even friendships. Have you ever felt like this? It comes in many forms.
"It's opening night, how did I end up getting cast? I can't do this; I don't know how to act." Or "I got hired to teach this class because I have a degree in Theatre Education. Oh no, they are going to be really disappointed when they find out I'm not as good at this as I should be."
This nagging feeling is technically called Impostor Syndrome. According to a recent article in Psychology Magazine, "While not an officially diagnosable disorder, the imposter syndrome is a term used to describe feelings of not deserving what we achieve. We discount our success as the result of luck or being nice or even our own manipulation, and we live in constant fear of being unmasked as a fraud or an imposter."
It is easy for me to be lured into thinking that earning a degree, getting a promotion, finishing a project, teaching a class will give me enough credibility to keep this fear at bay, but ironically (or perhaps fittingly), the more milestones of credibility and competence I reach, the more I tend to feel like I've raised the stakes for being "found out" as a fraud. The previously mentioned article in Psychology Today magazine describes this sort of mirage of success:
"One thing is certain: More success and more awards do not always bring the self-assuredness we seek. In fact, the imposter in us may feed on them. The question may not be whether we always deserve what we achieve, or even if we achieve what we deserve, but rather if we can learn to live with the discomfort inherent in the questions rather than run too quickly to one side or the other."
Speaking of articles, there are so many pieces that have been written on Imposter Syndrome that I have found recently--it's been a nice stroke of synchronicity in my quest to learn more about this frustrating but fascinating phenomenon:http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creative-synthesis/201304/face-your-imposter