I am in a funny phase of life where I am discovering thoughts/theories/beliefs that I have had for a long time are actually well-recognized phenomena or studies or disciplines. Along the lines of, “whoa, I always thought that but, I didn’t know it had a name and that other people have discovered it too.”
I found a post on a friend’s website a while back called, “How to Steal Like an Artist.” Today I looked at it again following some conversations with people who are the absolute most creative people I know not thinking that they are all that creative at all, or worrying that their ideas have already been done by others. I re-read it and followed a few links from it. (it is, after all, finals week. the most prime time for random distractions).
I discovered something I may have. It is called Impostor Syndrome, and I am sure many people who have never heard of it suffer from it. It is a phenomena where “proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”
“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision” -Bertrand Russell
Wikipedia says that Impostor Syndrome was originally hypothesized to be found more in women, but that men have it in equal numbers. From my anecdotal experience I cannot concur, as I have found men to suffer far more from, the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
I’m not sure how Impostor Syndrome overlaps with what a therapist of mine, I believe, once called anti-entitlement. Anti-entitlement is sortof the extreme tendency to not want to inconvenience others combined with a compulsion to not stand up for yourself because you don’t want to make waves.
That’s the funny thing about me.
I think that most people would describe me as “confident,” or “bossy” or “assertive.” And, I don’t see it that way at all. I really hate telling other people what to do… especially if I think they see it another way. This is likely part Mormon-passive aggressive/anti-confrontationalist and part being a woman. Because, after all, if you do stick up for yourself as a woman, you are often labeled with negative words like “bossy” or “pushy” or worse. In fact, I can’t think of a single incident in my life where a man was described as “bossy.”
Are they just assumed to be the boss? So if they are being “bossy” it’s just the way they are expected to act?
In some ways I think that this anti-entitlement tilt I’ve got going on is an asset. I can recognize that other people are just as capable as I am. I don’t feel I deserve things that other people don’t. After living in NW DC with a very large crowd of the richest, whitest most entitled feeling (and absolutely the most unpleasant) group of people on earth, I certainly don’t want to be like them and assume I deserve more than others or that my time is more valuable than that of EVERYONE else.
But, I also tend to belittle my own accomplishments. For example, I kept calling the film I am making my “little film” and a professor of mine said, “stop calling it little. This is an amazing feat for a law student.”
Another example is that I didn’t attend my graduation from Undergrad. The main reason was that I just felt like I stuck around for a bunch of years. I didn’t feel I had actually accomplished anything.
Ok. I am making a promise to you internet dearest:
I will attend my law school graduation ceremony.*
*except in the unlikely event that Dick Cheney is asked to be the Commencement Speaker.