What am I doing with a blog?

Awww…heck. I dunno.

yeah, ‘cept I really am… November 8, 2007

Filed under: school — himbly @ 11:16 pm

…an imposter.

On a recent evening, Columbia University held a well-attended workshop for young academics who feel like frauds.

Columbia, huh? Yeah…that’s where real students go. I wouldn’t even attempt to go to their fraud seminar for fear of getting the bum’s rush.

These were duly vetted, highly successful scholars who nonetheless live in creeping fear of being found out. Exposed. Sent packing.

“It’s like we have this trick scale,” says Valerie Young, a traveling expert on the syndrome who gave the workshop at Columbia. Here’s how that scale works: Self-doubt and negative feedback weigh heavily on the mind, but praise barely registers. You attribute your failures to a stable, inner core of ineptness. Meanwhile, you discount your successes as accidental or, worse, as just so many confidence jobs. Every positive is a false positive.

By many accounts, academics — graduate students, junior professors, and even some full professors — relate to this only a little less than they relate to eye strain.

It’s amazing how common feeling like a fraud is. The article goes on to say that roughly 70% of, well, everyone (men and women) have felt as though they were imposters at one point of their careers. Through personal experience, I suppose almost all the grad students I know have mentioned feeling inferior at some point or another, and the truth is that I’ve not paid that much attention to these comments because of my admiration for their work…and my inferiority to them. Heh.

According to Ms. Matthews, a person with impostor syndrome typically experiences a cycle of distress when faced with a new task: self-doubt, followed by perfectionism, then — sometimes but not always — procrastination.

But if it weren’t for my procrastination cycle, I wouldn’t post on my blog at all!

It is 10:15pm on the eve of my 35th birthday and I’m signing off. Himbly, queen of all that she fakes her way through.


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