Lizard Brain: Impostor syndrome

This week was the most DREADED yet at the same time EXCITING week of the entire year for me (corona notwithstanding). Huge. HUMONGOUS. Over the top dramatically epically important. A career-maker or breaker (or well, at least it was, in my head). A week that I spent two months working my ass off for, and then two more months waiting for in pure desperate enthusiasm (interesting combo, no?). And all of that after already slaving away for 4 months previously. It’s been a madhouse, this 2020, workwise.

It’s what I get for choosing a career in Bid Management – which is an occupation ruled by cycles like these. You work on a bid, turn it in and then wait for a despicable too-long amount of time to get your results back, all the while hoping, praying and begging for a win. And if, like myself, you work on two bids at the same time, that both get results back in the same week, in the first 6 months of your switch to this career – you might imagine the importance AND dread that comes with it.

So this week – today and Friday – were the set dates of receiving the final selection (aka winners) for the two large bids I’d been working on these past few months. Bids that were not just important for me personally, but also for the entire company and every person involved (although, I guess, that’s pretty much always the nature of bids this large). So when not one but both of the decision letters landed in my mailbox today, you can pretty much see my shaking hands and tight lips and excita-scared moments before opening them, right?

The verdict?

WE WON BOTH OF THEM.

Which, in and of itself is AWESOME.
GREAT. ‘GEWELDIG’. EPIC. SUPER –please add in some other superlatives matching to such an occasion-. They are big wins. Very visible. Making people extremely extremely happy. And they’re a confirmation that the new approach to bid-deals (introduced when I joined the team and built around my writing capabilities) is WORKING. Well enough to have us win these bids that we more often lost than won these past few years. With me currently sitting comfortably at a 4.5 out of 5 win-rate for the deals I worked on (which is extremely high, as I’ve been guaranteed).

Yet here I sit.
Party-pooping my own party.
Because apparently I am THAT kind of person.
Looking at these letters and feeling more sad than happy because we didn’t get the grades I’d expected, wanted and think we deserved.

It’s a side-effect of the impostor syndrome that I’ve become all too familiar with these past few months (not only because I read up about it on like 10 other blogs after discovering that there was a term for how I feel, but also because suffering from it has been a constant in my life). A side-effect (or so most of the studies say) of having a high education/intelligence combined with a crushingly low self-confidence. Well. That’s me down to a tee, if you ask me.

Impostor syndrome can take many forms (do read up on it if you’re interested).  Five types, actually, if you believe the science. Five types which I’ve all belonged to in the past, or present.
There’s ‘the Perfectionist’ (always striving to be perfect, but never perfect enough)  and the ‘Superman’ (feeling like a phony in comparison to the true greats all around you). I’ve been ‘the Natural Genius’ (where you feel like you’re smart, but chiding yourself for being dumb because you’re taking too ‘long’ to pick up a new skill. If you WERE smart you’d be able to ‘get it’ faster). The ‘Soloist’ (where asking for help feels like you’re showing people your weakness and ‘phoniness’, aka, you HAVE to do everything alone) AND ‘The expert’ (where you fear that, despite knowing a lot, you’ll come across as unknowledgeable or incapable).

Hell, I’m a complete mix of all of these, all at the same time. Always. Which…in general….can be a struggle. A fight – me battling myself to ensure myself that these are mere thoughts and not reality. Trying to corroborate that with all the evidence I can get (that I then, as the true impostor syndrome sufferer that I am, easily discard).

For me it mostly manifests as a ‘not good enough’. The feeling that you don’t belong. That you’re not good enough for where you’re at in your workplace (or friendgroup, or family or whatever). That you’re desperately trying to hide the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing, lack knowledge, can’t do the work or are just generally ‘lacking’.

A feeling of suspense. Constantly thinking you’re ‘going to get caught’ (or as we Dutch say ‘dat je door de mand gaat vallen’) for being a fraud. It’s harrowing. But at the same time it makes you feel so so alive. It keeps me on edge, makes sure I keep working at ‘preventing my downfall’. I use it to my advantage, that feeling of insecurity and ‘unsafeness’. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself these days.

So when we got the news of our wins – naturally I rejoiced. For a few minutes. Posted it cheerily in all the different work apps, mailed it to all the people who HAD to see this AWESOMENESS. Reveled in the weight that’d been lifted from my shoulders.

And then I did ‘my thing’. Because then I saw our ‘winning’ grades and decided that they weren’t good enough. These wins were supposed to have been decisive. Undeniable. Perfect. And they weren’t.

When it came to ‘my wins’ I see them as follows: one win was beginner’s luck. Two wins was a coincidence. Three wins was a pattern and this 4th and 5th win should have made it undeniable that our way of working, indeed, was golden. And it didn’t. Or. Not enough, to my taste. The grades were decent. 5th place (out of 26) on the one, 2nd (out of 22) on the other. But there were a few 6’s. A few 8’s. Only 1 10 as the scores on individual items. And I’d expected better of myself. Of my team. Of us. Regardless of the fact that we left out an entire line of competitors in deals we previously would’ve lost.

There’s an entire company rejoicing over the two big wins and people thanking us on their knees for ‘saving’ their actual entire jobs. And I sit here thinking about how we should’ve done better. And somewhere, in my head, it doesn’t make sense. But another voice says ‘but at least you’ll always be trying to improve’. I just wished I could do that while feeling happy about things like these a bit more, and a lot longer. Fucking impostor syndrome.

BUT STILL!
WE WON!

OH.
And – as a personal victory: WordPress just notified me that I hit 1000 followers. You guys are awesome for putting up with my craziness!

I think today SHOULD go down in the books as a good day. Regardless of my lizard brain. Huzzah!



41 thoughts on “Lizard Brain: Impostor syndrome

  1. Ok – so it turns out I’m an expert imposter. I just learned about it. On your blog. I swear – every time I go on-site with work, or meet new work clients, I stress beforehand – that I’ll be found out in some way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re donig just FINE … oh no … that’s the wrong side of the scale, i mean: GREAT ! 🤣

    Really: I enjoyed every letter & layer of this blog!

    You deserve the win. And the happines and fulfillment it can bring.
    You really touched me with the selfreflection, once again: kudos & (deep) respect!

    2020 might be a bizarre year for everyone of us (including you, of course), but it has brought you some good moments, insights and … perspective (at least at your job: your employer must be really crazy if by now they don’t recognize the potential that you’ve got).

    Let that (thought) give you a headstart into 2021 (on all fronts).

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Lol, congratulations! Well, I really am feeling like an imposter now, because TWO of the (usually-modest) people that I follow have just announced today that they’ve done something unbelievably and satisfyingly epic, lol. Let me guess— you were the type to walk out of exams declaring that you’ve failed, but then get the best in the class? 🤔

    “A side-effect (or so most of the studies say) of having a high education/intelligence combined with a crushingly low self-confidence”

    Haha this is classic imposter syndrome conditions. Low self-confidence/high self-criticism. For me a lot of imposter syndrome feeling has come from the absolute inconsistency with which my brain performs, day-to-day, as well as the self-critique. Too sensitive to the environment. Blogging suits me fine :D.

    But seriously, congrats! 🥳

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I was mooooost definitely the ‘I didn’t study and I knew none of the answers and this is gonna cost me my grade – oh look an 98%!’ Type of girl 🤪😅

      My friends (rightfully) hated me for it sometimes hahaha!

      Blogging, indeed – is fucking awesome!
      (And being congratulatory towards those virtual Blogging buddies on their achievements is, in itself, also awesome: thank you so much!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. LOL. I am so good at this lmao. I said the same to the other blogger and was also spot on 🤣.

        Funny I got a 98% once and when I came out everyone was like I failed and when they asked me I was like, yeahh probly got 100% lol. It’s easy to judge it with physics or maths.

        You’re very welcome! 🥳

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve missed you and your writing. You’re a bit like crack for me, addictive! So I have to be careful to moderate my intake.

    Congrats on the 2 big wins 🙂

    BTW, look up “Dunning-Kruger effect” (if you’re not already familiar with it). My wife gets it a lot and it sounds like you do too… it’s similar to imposter syndrome.

    Oh and congrats on 1,000 followers! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s definitely the first time I’ve been compared to actual crack 🤪🤭 (addictive I HAVE heard before so I guess that’s a valid consideration 😳). Good to see you around again, hope it works in small doses!

      Dunning-Kruger I am painfully familiar with as well, especially looking back at certain phases in life. And indeed, very closely connected to this topic. Great addition!

      Thanks 🍾💪🥳

      Like

  5. Same here. I didn’t know it was a thing either, until I read it somewhere on Paula Prober’s blog about Rainforest Minds… But, congrats, nevertheless, you’ve done it anyway! All of it! 💐

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have had days where every voice that came my way was incredibly encouraging, like a kind of mid-air refuel with verbs…

    and then the very next day, thanks to just the teeniest, tiniest tweak of the dial, every single voice sounds like a hugely condescending put-down, and every encounter makes me wanna just run away and hide.

    If the voices out there can be like that, on the spin of such tiny dice, then what chance do we have with all this unfiltered stuff bubbling up right here inside our heads?

    Seems to me, when you take the energy of all those doubts and use it, you’re doing pretty well.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yeah, I get impostor syndrome all the time. I just started a new job this month and it’s rampaging through me every hour. Takes a while to move past it.

    Still, I think it’s natural and a positive personality trait (even though it often doesn’t feel like it). Better to be humble and self-deprecating than an arrogant jackass. In my humble opinion!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m a Soloist! Should I be happy about that? lol
    I think people in general are too hard on themselves. I am older and learning to try to let a lot of things go, but that’s easier to say than do.
    Congratulations anyways! Awesome job………..:-)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think I’m a bit of an Expert with a dash of Soloist: I worry that what I know isn’t enough and I don’t ask for help enough because, in my mind, I should know it already.

    Congratulations on the wins, and on the follower count.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely. I know full well that I’m being utterly stupid, but convincing my lizard brain of this is always much more of a challenge than it should be.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Okay, this was s really great read. 100% relate. I think I’m a mixture of the superman and natural genius. But I’ve come to terms with the fact that what’s meant to be will be. No matter how much we hide or muzzle our talents, they will be discovered even in obscurity. If you’re in a room full of brainiacs, then you’re one as well. As for the other forms, I guess not all wins will be a 100% in life. Some things happen to humble us and even help us keep working on ourselves. Live is about growth at the end of the day. Congrats on your big wins!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the way you put that ‘no matter how much we hide or muzzle our talents, they will be discovered even in obscurity’.

      That’s beautiful!
      And inspiring 🔥
      Thanks for the lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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