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Eric Douglas: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

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You might think I’m about to talk about some scam avoidance technique or advice for new graduates moving into the workforce, but truly, Imposter Syndrome hits everyone.

Unless you are gifted with an excess of self-confidence, everyone has felt at one time or another like they were in over their head. Or that they didn’t have the right to call themselves a (whatever). That led to you waiting for someone to realize you were an imposter and call you out.

Ironically, most of the people who are imposters know they’re playing a game and never worry about those things. It’s the rest of us who are trying to do a good job who are prone to feeling like we aren’t qualified.

I’ll give you an example from my world. You may have heard the term “aspiring writer”. First off, there is no such thing. If you write — even if it is on the back of napkins, or dry technical reports, or love poems — you are a writer. You aren’t aspiring to anything.

You might aspire to be a bestselling author, or a published author, and aspire to winning awards. Those are all fine aspirations, but they are at least partly out of your control. What you can control is knowing (and owning) the fact that you are a writer.

But, you say, I have no interest in being a writer. Fine. Substitute the word “writer” for whatever you want to do. It could be painter, or architect or welder.

I’ll wait.

Seriously, a job I had a few years ago, my boss moved on and I was elevated to his position on an “acting” basis. (Eventually it became permanent and I held it for 10 years.)

People immediately came to me asking technical questions. I was flummoxed. They never would have asked me those questions a week before, but suddenly I was the expert.

That had me feeling like an imposter for a while. I tried to push back at first. Then I realized I was the closest to an expert they had. I started answering the questions based on my experience and the things he taught me.

Nothing exploded.

The point is, everyone has felt like an imposter in their job or with their hobby. Starting something new or taking on a new responsibility can be intimidating. The only way to get past that is to just do it.

Learn from your mistakes. And realize that everyone around you has felt, and maybe still does feel, the same way you do.

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit www.booksbyeric.com or contact him at Eric@booksbyeric.com

FUNERALS FOR THURSDAY, JULY 18, 2019

Anderson, Robert - 1 p.m. Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.

Atkins Jr., Archie - 11 a.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Burdette, Davy - 8 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Edwards, Dianna - 2 p.m., Montgomery Memorial Park, London.

Loving, Nancy - 1 p.m., Groves Creek Community Church, Harrison.

Meadows, James - 2 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Miller, Ruth - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Smith, Carl - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Thornton, Sammie - 1 p.m., Gatens - Harding Funeral Home, Poca.

Vance, Zenda - 11 a.m., Montgomery Memorial Park, London.

Whitson, Grady - 7 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Williams, Mary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.