This weekend I had the privilege of attending Wordcamp Dayton 2015. That being the case there will be a bit more posts than usual this month in attempt to share the wealth. The first talk of the day on Saturday was a panel discussion featuring: Jeff Chandler, Angela Bergmann, Rick Robinkoff & Steve Grunwell on “Fighting Imposter Syndrome.” Please find my synopsis of that discussion below.
What is imposter syndrome?
It’s the feeling that you’re where you are in life because someone wasn’t paying attention NOT due to a certain skill set or level of expertise you possess. The belief is that you are a fraud who has somehow slipped through the cracks & is evading discovery. This is accompanied by the fear that once folks realize who you really are, you are in jeopardy of losing that position.
How do I know if I have imposter syndrome?
Ask yourself, have I ever:
- not accepted praise for my work but rather attributed it to someone or something else
- felt unworthy of praise
- felt that if an “actual” expert looked at your work they would deem it improper -or- unprofessional
- felt as though you have nothing to contribute back to the community
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above points – there’s a good chance you’re suffering from imposter syndrome. If that’s the case you’re not alone. Many professionals who earn their living via WordPress are in the same boat including myself.
Some contributing factors to the prevalence of imposter syndrome amongst WordPress professionals are:
- there is no university degree you can earn in WordPress & there aren’t many or any formal education programs
- majority of our job is googling our problems & how to solve them (the better you are at googling the better job you have in the WordPress community)
Coping mechanisms/tips for dealing with imposter syndrome
- crack jokes & make a personal connection with people
- think of the worse thing that’s happened from your failures to help gain perspective of the reality of the situation
- own your mistakes – people appreciate that much more over cover-ups or not accepting ownership
- be public about it – there’s a lot of support to be had in the WordPress community
- instead of feeling like a failure or unqualified for a particular job based on not knowing one aspect of it – learn it. Attend conferences, read & research – before you know it people will be asking you questions about subject X. Then subject Y will come along…at which point you repeat the process
- remember we all put our pants on one leg at a time
- just because you ask a question doesn’t mean you don’t know anything. It just means you don’t know about that one facet & you may know more than someone else in another facet.
That’s about it for my notes on the talk – I’m glad this discussion is becoming more prevalent in the WordPress community. Hearing this & the affirmation that knowing how to google is actually a skill & legitimate problem solving technique gives hope for those of us who are attempting to find our place within the WordPress community. If this topic intrigues you, I recommend checking out the following posts from Chris Lema on imposter syndrome: