Tomorrow will mark month two of my post-academic adventure as an instructional technologist. I’ve been adjusting to a new schedule, new colleagues, new responsibilities, and overall different lifestyle. I thought I was mentally prepared for the transition. I wasn’t.
In fact, I feel like a fraud.
Imposter syndrome is not new to me. For much of the five years of grad school and eight years as a professor, I frequently felt like I was pretending to be an intellectual and at any moment, the Ivory Tower Police would discover my secret and disrobe me. But those moments of self-doubt are nothing compared to how I feel now.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m enjoying my new position immensely and I’m also impressed by how much I’ve already learned. I’m not totally down on myself! But a couple times a day I’m reminded of how much I don’t know. Last week, I was leading a small group training session on Twitter for a group of faculty and one asked me why users are limited to 140 characters. “It just seems like such an arbitrary number. What’s the back story?”
I don’t know.
That’s something I should know.
I smiled and tried to maintain my confident facade. “That’s a great question! I actually don’t know but I’ll look it up after our session and e-mail you.”
Dummy. How do you not know that?
And so it goes.
I am getting better at re-framing my negative thoughts, but I still worry that my new boss will pull me into his office and say he made a mistake offering the position to me. What if he realizes I don’t know how to use Dreamweaver? Or that I only learned how to screencast last month? Or that I have no idea how to code? I’m not even competent with Excel formulas!
As debilitating as these thoughts can be, however, I must admit that imposter guilt is a fantastic motivator. I’ve spent hours watching You Tube tutorials, scanning Lynda.com, peppering my Twitter PLN with questions, and clicking a lot of buttons. So in some ways, managing my imposter guilt has been productive. But I do look forward to the day I no longer worry about being “found out.” Until then, I hope my enthusiasm carries me through.
Have you experienced imposter syndrome? How did you cope?
If you’re curious: why Twitter users are limited to 140 characters