Imposter syndrome2019-03-27 10:15
On the 22nd of January 2016, Gamasutra brought an article (or it might have been a blog) about the so-called imposter syndrome. It is nothing new, but I only heard about it myself a few months before Gamasutra brought it up. The article is called "How game devs around the industry deal with imposter syndrome" and is written by Alex Wawro.
Imposter syndrome is when a person feels that they are deceiving others, that their work does not justify the reward or success they are given. It is something that a lot of succesful people (or people you would consider successful) seems to suffer from and for a good reason.
Inspired by a pop-art poster of Brach Obama. I will use myself as an example, not because I have lots to brag about, but exactly because I do not feel like I do. I will mention some of the things, that I have received compliments for (whether I feel I deserved it or not). For two years I have been a student representative in the studyboard of Medialogy at Aalborg University. My second year I won my election with 72 of 100 votes (see the figures, they might explain why), and was also elected as the vice chairman of the studyboard (the highest possible position for a student in the studyboard). I have had people come to me for help, people asking me to apply for a job as student councillor because of my work.
I have also been an instructor to the ruslings during their rusperiod (the first month at the university), and besides having to guide them and teach them about how to be a good student (fake it till you make it) at Aalborg University, I had to coordinate the different events. I was given the sole responsibility for our finances, because the others thought I was best suited for this. Yet again I was complimented on my work, yet I did not feel I did a lot to deserve these compliments.
When I founded StonePlant Studios together with my three partners, I instantly wondered what role I could fill in this company. I was chosen to administer finances and resources in general. "Managing manager" was used as a joke title for my role in the company, and I suppose it describes pretty well, what it was I did - I managed. But whenever I went to conferences, network meetings and the like, and people there asked me what my part was - what it was I did - I got this feeling that I was just tagging along these talented people that I worked together with. I hardly had anything to do with the games we made, and the few times I had contributed to our projects it was of little or no use in the final product. Well some of it did serve as a good laugh.
Still my partners considered me as a part of the team, and I ca not recall any occasion where they had asked me to do better or work harder.
I believe the reason why someone would become a victim of the imposter syndrome, is because we forget where we once were, and we compare our current position to those who are ahead of us.
In general it is a bad habit to compare ourselves to others, but maybe that is a topic for another blog. Take a little time now to think about what it is you do that seems to fool everyone around you. Have you recently done something that gave a result far better, than what you believed possible? If not, then you might be able to remember a time, when this was the case. You probably got to feel the effect of the imposter syndrome.
Here is what you need to consider, in order to understand why you are not fooling anyone.
Whatever it is you do that others think you are good at, whether you can agree with them or not, there was a time when you were far worse, but you saw others do it, and you were amazed or at least inspired, so you tried it out. Even though you may have had a tough time, you got some positive results, so you kept on doing it, because you really liked doing it (I hope).
Suddenly your work draws attention from some of those that inspired you in the beginning. They commend your work, and because you have not stopped admiring and commending their work, you consider them to be better than you (they may still be), but the fact is, you are better than you used to be, and because of your hard work or talent you are moving up the ladder, you are now in the same league as those who inspired you and probably still inspire you.
You are not fooling anyone. You just need to look behind you, to see where you once where and then look ahead again, and realize that you probably reached a point you once dreamed of reaching. But now you dream of reaching a new point, and it may seem like you have not gotten anywhere because of it, but that is not true. It just took some time and effort to get where you are, and it will take some more to get to the next place.