Saturday, 23 February 2013

Imposter Syndrome

'To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are'. 
Muhammad Ali

One of my closest friends frequently tells me off for saying 'sorry'. I know I apologise all of the time. I'm the sort of person who will apologise to the person who has just bumped into me! I am often crippled by self doubt and never feel that I am 'good enough' that there are others who are more confident, more capable, more creative than I am. The fact that I now earn my living by 'selling' my talents has led to some amazing highs and some crushing lows. My friend Hywel talks about 'imposter syndrome' how you have this fear in the pit of your stomach before you get up to speak or lead a session. 'Why should these people listen to me'?

There are some good things about imposter syndrome:

  • You are not on your own, most teachers/educators suffer from this.
  • If you are worrying about this - it means you are trying your best to be the best that you can be.
  • It makes you resilient - you have this syndrome but you do it anyway!
My aunt died a couple of years ago and I really miss her, she was calm, thoughtful and always listened. At a time in my life when I was really low she gave me a glass pebble and told me to have it in my pocket and hold it in my hand when I had to do something that made me scared. Do you know what - that inexpensive glass pebble worked - shouldn't have done I know but its psychology isn't it? I had something to hold onto and by telling myself 'I could' do something it became easier. The quote above form Muhammad Ali  makes sense - we are all pretending in some way or another but as long as we are striving to be better tomorrow than we are today we will get 'there' - wherever 'there' is eventually.

 Guatemalan 'worry dolls' are placed under your pillow before sleep and take away what you are worried about whilst you sleep. Most of the teachers I know suffer from insomnia so I'm not sure if these work but they are sweet!

Imposter Syndrome is something we all suffer from at one time or another, we don't need Ofsted to tell us we 'have 'room for improvement' we know that - that's what makes us 'outstanding' at what we do - not that we are perfect but that we worry about being the best we can be, when we stop worrying and become complacent - THAT's when we need to improve.
Having said that - there has to be a limit - we have to start to believe in ourselves, know that we are striving, and stop worrying about what others think.

PS - Unfortunately I don't still have the glass pebble - I gave it to my uncle on the day of my aunt's funeral - I don't need it as I have her strength when I need that x


  1. I have those same dolls! A friend gave them to me when I was in the middle of a very anxious time. I suffer with imposter syndrome even now. I am very lucky though to have friends and a wonderful husband who do believe in me and constantly tell me. I just need a little more confidence to believe them!!

  2. I really do think we all 'suffer' from this Julia, but like you I'm lucky to have a wonderfully supportive husband. I know this is stating the obvious BUT I really admire all the work you do - you are amazing - how can you doubt yourself!?! ha x

  3. Great post Jane very inspirational


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