While I have been successful at my career, I live in a perpetual belief that I am not good enough. I constantly feel like I am a fraud, and at any time someone will come along and unmask me.
Of course, all evidence points at the opposite, that I am quite competent, and capable, often exceeding expectations, and gaining the trust of my managers/executives and peers.
Still, that lingering self doubt cripples me. Perhaps it was being pulled into the “gifted” programs in grade school, where my parents (mother and stepfather) fought to prevent that from happening (often berating me for thinking I was better than them). Or from the alienation I experienced in high school, being labeled as one of the “smart kids”.
(side note: years later, I crossed paths with a couple of peers that I didn’t interact much with in high school, and they admitted that they found me intimidating in math and science classes. Really? I felt ostracized and isolated much of my high school years)
This has followed me throughout my professional career as well, slipping chameleon-like into different technologies, picking up enough expertise to function, but not ever feeling like a player.
My first brush was in my first product marketing role. I had great respect for my boss, and I learnt a LOT from him, but I watched people across the organization get promoted, say things that were demonstrably wrong, but because they had conviction in their views, wrong or misinformed, they were accepted as credible.
Surely, my observations, conclusions, analyses that were opposed to these positions, had to be wrong. Clearly, that is part of the feedback loop that enhances this erroneous belief that I am a fraud.
Having been in product management / product marketing for 20 years now (1996 through 2016), and been involved with semiconductor equipment, photolithography, networking hardware, industrial measurement and test equipment, enterprise communications software, nanotechnology, and now back into networking and the education side of that, at each stop quickly acclimating, and being productive, I should not feel as though I am an imposter, yet the nagging fear remains.
Apparently, this is not an uncommon behavior, having been documented as “Imposter Syndrome“. Reading this really rings true.