Who are you to think you’re such an expert?

I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, Ask a Manager. This is an excellent blog if you ever need job advice, it basically has EVERYTHING covered. If you have never visited it, you really should. Even if you already have your dream job, there are tons of very useful career information on there. There’s also just a lot of good stories as well.

A recent post jumped out at me because it answered one of the things I worry most about and showed me that I wasn’t alone in thinking this. It was called “Impostor Syndrome: Do You Feel Like a Fraud?“. What is that you ask? A definition: “People who are, in fact, competent, feel as if they’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, when someone realizes they are not up to this job/position/project and expose them as a fraud.”

I have felt this way my entire life. Every time I feel like I’m good at something, I seem to doubt myself. To this day, I still cannot believe I have two college degrees. How on earth did I graduate with a Master’s degree? It doesn’t matter that I remember slaving away in the library for two years doing tons of research so I could write very long papers. Nor does it matter that I know a good deal about archives and preservation from years of work and internships. Nope, all that matters is that someone will ask me a question about a part of history I am not familiar with and when I don’t know the answer, in their eyes I should not be what I claim to be.

It feels like you need to stop presenting yourself as an expert in something because clearly you aren’t as you don’t have all the answers. It’s ok for you to hang out in the background and pipe out every now and then as a fan but really if you’re advertising yourself as master in something, you have to know it all. Plus someone else is better than you anyways so why are you even bothering?

A lot of this is a confidence issue and how you view your self-worth, at least I know it is for me. Part of the advice is if you actually do know it but don’t feel confident, you need to learn to fake the confidence that you think you deserve and it will all be come real eventually. But that can be really hard for me sometimes. The worst actually is from other people who legit are actual experts (or even worse, FANS) and they get MAD when you’re getting the recognition and they didn’t.

The best advice is usually to just ignore all the other voices and just focus on what you’re doing. Liars will always be found out so you can’t get away with it forever. At the same time, if I feel like I actually know what I’m doing and I know that I actually worked hard to get it, then NO ONE should be able to take that away from me. You’re meant to be there, you earned it.


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