It was not so long ago when I was happily researching other peoples resarch projects, I began to envision myself sitting quite happily with my academic elbow patches, easily and contently researching the questions that were at the heart of my desire to start and then complete a PhD. These questions were the ones that had propelled me forward, given me focus, and ignited my passion to combine my two loves, museums and academia. Not once did I question my ability to answer them. I was caught up im the excitement of it all. I started my own research. The most terrifying and exhilarating thing I have ever done. then the reality hit me. I realised I had managed to fool myself and everybody else into thinking I was competent. The panic set in. Soon they will all know the truth that I am actually incredibly stupid and don’t belong here.
I’ve always had self confidence issues, forever shy and I still firmly believe that I’m not intelligent, I just work hard, and a serious of lucky events of being in the right place at the right time has led to be being where I am today.
I often get told about Imposter Syndrome, which is basically characterised by the belief that you have somehow fooled everyone into thinking you are clever, and soon someone is going to find out that you shouldn’t really be here and you are a fraud. I feel like this on a daily basis. Apparently it’s very common in female academics. For about a year I have been bluffing this feeling with bravado. Getting excited by digital museum geekyness and pretending everything is fine. But since I’ve damaged my shoulder I have had a lot of time for procrastination and the fear of being discovered as an academic imposter has returned with a vengeance.
No matter how many times I hear the words imposter syndrome; it doesn’t seem to fit how I feel. Why? Because it sounds like something other actually intelligent people suffer from. Whereas I really am quite stupid (I am blonde after all) and it is fluke that I’m attempting to complete a PhD, and work with incredibly clever people. It’s only because I get excited by everything that I managed to bluff my way through so far.
This post is an attempt to understand why I feel like this. To be honest I don’t know if it has helped. But according to all the Imposter Syndrome posts I’ve read they point to sharing how you feel and discovering other people who feel exactly the same. So I ask you this, am I an imposter? And more to the point are you?