As I sat in the crowded ballroom in Boston waiting for the opening speaker for Litmus Live, I thought about how lucky I felt to count myself in attendance. Not all companies provide an education fund enabling their employees to improve themselves professionally, but Simpleview does.
This is important because, as a Senior Email Marketing Specialist, I want to continue learning about email and how it shapes the world around us. Yet I am thankful for the times when other subjects are presented and I learn a great deal from them about myself and other disciplines.
This is exactly what happened when I learned about this next part-just whisper it with me, don't say it out loud yet-"Impostor Syndrome". Sounds intimidating, doesn't it? You can whisper it again if you need to: "Impostor Syndrome." But what is it?
"Two American psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, gave it a name in 1978: the impostor syndrome. They described it as a feeling of "phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement." While these people "are highly motivated to achieve," they also "live in fear of being ‘found out' or exposed as frauds." - The New York Times
Sitting in the opening session and hearing Kathryn Grayson Nanz, Front-end Developer/Designer with G3 Communications, begin describing this phenomenon, all I could think was, "OMG, who told her?"
We all know that email is a very powerful tool and, as Katheryn says, "this shit ain't easy!" There is not a set of standards, and most of us who work with it find ourselves Googling things or going to the Litmus Community asking, "What in the world is happening to my email?!"
Therefore, when people who feel like they could have impostor syndrome tendencies start on a project, they might be filled with anxiety, self-doubt, and worry that they are not going to have the chops to complete the task. There could be over-preparation, creating more anxiety because it takes more time, so the project has the chance of being late. There is a good chance they could hide from the project, completely ignore it, or procrastinate to the level that the due date passes.
As professionals with impostor syndrome tendencies talk themselves up enough to complete the project, it is unfortunate that they will then most likely ignore any positive feedback bestowed upon them by peers or higher-ups. Instead, they will have feelings of being a fake, levels of depression, and just pile on more anxiety. Then the cycle starts fresh with a new project and it just gets stronger each time. That is, until the possibility of burnout.
But, as Ms. Nanz says, "You have to learn how to rewire your thinking."
With that in mind, she provided a number of ways that professionals with impostor syndrome tendencies can hopefully put it all behind them! If you've ever felt like I've described above, let's work on these items together which came directly from the Litmus Live Conference in Boston:
- Keep a "Win List"
This is an on-demand reminder you are really doing good work!
- Take a social network break
Time to have some fun and learn something new!
- Own your accomplishments
Don't give them away.
- Find a mentor/Be a mentor
This can help you feel more confident.
- Take the Quiz (just for fun!)
Am I a real developer
- Push yourself
Take on new projects.
- Enjoy every moment
Get involved and make connections.
There is a whole support system out there for email designers and marketers, and there are online resources for those facing imposter syndrome, too.
As Ms. Nanz wrapped up her presentation, I took a look around me at the other #emailgeeks. I was curious to see what their reactions might be to the news of impostor syndrome. And what I saw was not a lot of people looking at their phones, but with their heads up and even nodding them in agreement. It did seem for that moment people were interested and engaged.
What would be interesting, would be to see how many of those people went back and adopted any of the changes listed above. Me? Honestly? I took the quiz and I am a real developer- email that is.
Want to Learn More?
- Geek Feminism Wiki, FANDOM Lifestyle Community, "Imposter Syndrome."
- Impostor Syndrome.com
- Kathryn Grayson Nanz: "Opening Session: Overcoming Impostor Syndrome," Litmus Live 2017
- Pike, Sarah. "How to Get Over Imposter Syndrome." Career Contessa.com.
- Richards, Carl. "Learning to Deal with the Imposter Syndrome." The New York Times, October 26, 2015.
- Warrell, Margie. "Afraid of Being ‘Found Out?' How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome." Forbes.com, April 3, 2014.
Opinions expressed by the author are her own.