Impostor Syndrome, Part 2

by Bill Brenner on July 9, 2014

I’ve been way off my game lately. My diet and exercise regimen is all over the place. I’m working my ass off at the job, but I feel like I’ve gotten little accomplished. I’m cranky a lot.

I’ve been here before. It’s a flare up of impostor syndrome.

Mood music:

I’ve always harbored the fear that someday people will discover I’m really not as smart and talented as they currently think I am.

I’ve had a lot of good luck in my career, surviving the rough patches, such as when I was floundering as night editor of The Eagle-Tribune. Working nights wrung the editing skills out of this morning person.

I moved on to a job writing about cybersecurity and haven’t looked back. I’ve been on the board of directors for a security user group. I’ve been invited to give a lot of presentations. I’ve had a few promotions. People read my security blog and this blog and actually like what I do.

Along the way, I have moments of cold fear when I think about how far I’ve come, and I wonder when people are going to wake up and realize that I’m not even close to being as good as they say I am. True, I have my critics and they’re always happy to take me down a few pegs. I’m grateful for them, because they keep me honest. But those people who think my skills are so sharp that they invite me to speak and write and to share my work on the social networks? Surely they’ll wake up one morning to find that I’m just a fake.

I’m not alone. A lot of my friends in the security industry suffer from impostor syndrome.

I trace my current flare up to a few things:

  • My physical fitness regimen is off the rails, which effects the mental health. I could list a bunch of reasons for this, but the only thing that matters is that I have to get back on the horse and ride.
  • I’m well paid for what I do, and if I don’t get 10 projects delivered a week, I start feeling like I’m ripping off the people who put their faith in me.
  • Unlike the world of journalism, where quantity and page views are everything, my current job calls for a slower, more deliberate approach. I’m not used to that, even though it’s what I wanted. Now I have time to boost the quality but can’t seen to understand that it’s perfectly OK and even required now.
  • I just got back from vacation. Whenever I get back from a vacation, I always feel like I was gone just long enough to become irrelevant.

I’m not telling you this for pity. I’m simply taking inventory and seeing where I need to do better. It’s a skill I used to lack, and my descents were deeper and more bruising as a result.

I have a pretty good fix on what my problems are these day, and now I can address them.

Boy coming out from behind a mask

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