An Imposter Among Us?

In the middle of the COVID pandemic, a popular game from 2018 cropped up. Among Us was its name. The objective of the game was to identify the imposter from the group of players. The players were dropped into separate rooms and murders would be committed at random until the imposter was identified. It got me thinking; Are we imposters in our own lives? I'm not implying there are any murderers amongst my loyal readers (I hope). However, we may, at times, have an eerie feeling that someone is living our life and we are but passengers in our own bodies. Let that sink in. There are times when someone has asked you what have you been up-to all week and, to your own chagrin, you have no memory of what you have been doing, Its as though you have been operating on autopilot. With our work, it can feel the same way. There is an ocean of professions and professionals out there. I am a programmer and I find myself best suited to give an example with my experience in technology space. A couple of times I have found myself doubting my own work. I am young in a cut-throat profession marred with people 8 years or more my senior. "Is my work good enough?" "Am I good enough?" "Should I sculpt my code like Brian's more?" And other questions. Even though I put my best foot forward, any form of praise heaped towards me would always be interpreted as pity within my mind. "They just feel sorry for me. They are just encouraging me", I would tell myself. In the IT industry, a high percentage of members suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Imposter syndrome refers to a pattern of thoughts and feelings where individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud," despite evidence of their competence and success. So, for some of us, our accomplishments and successes can be so grand that you find yourself in doubt. "Did I really do this? No it's just dumb luck? Or maybe beginner's luck?" Moreso, if you are successful on your first attempt, the feeling of being an imposter becomes even more pronounced. However, the opposite is also true. Should an attempt go extremely well on your first try, you may start having feelings of superiority. You start thinking that you possess The Midas Touch. Instead of acknowledging the element of luck, you take it as a sign of being the chosen one. This is called The Dunning Kruger Effect. People who are less skilled in a certain area often believe they are more competent than they actually are. So, two sides of the same coin. Imposter syndrome borders on cowardice while The Dunning-Kruger Effect borders on arrogance. Whether you are an employee, a business owner or a CEO, it is your task to identify early on whether you suffer from either prejudice. Should the answer be yes, you should be aware of how it affects your work flow as well as the people you are leading/working with. Should the answer be no, guard your faculties that no ill-will or harmful thoughts may sway you to either side. Imposter syndrome will make you see mistakes where none exist. Sometimes, it may sound selfish to many, but you should take all the credit for your own hard work. If you did said projects with a few members, share the glory, but always remember you played a part in its success and that counts too. So give credit where credit is due, lest imposter syndrome make you your own biggest enemy.

Jessie

jesse.wainaina@3qs.co.ke

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