Monday, 12 November 2012

None the bloody wiser

There has been more than one occasion when I have considered renaming this blog None The Bloody Wiser"!  The older I get the less I know I really know - both in terms of life the universe and everything and also in terms of my own ability to operate within said reality.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle - sorry folks this is all about work again, regular readers may detect more than one long-running theme here.  I've just felt overwhelmed by it, worried and stressed by it, lost about it etc. etc.  But of course this all comes down to a couple of major factors.

Firstly impostor syndrome. This is something that I only recently became aware of in terms of it having a name and being well recognised.  I've suffered with this all my life.  The continual fear that today will be the the day that "they" realise that I am a fraud at this job, task, activity, whatever and that they will call time on me and expose me as the failure I undoubtedly am.  Interestingly a lot of highly qualified people suffer with this condition who have considerable evidence to support that it isn't true.  Take me for example, I have letters after my name to prove I can do what I do supposedly, of course I'd point out that I acquired this years ago via a route now long shut off and my skills are out of date etc., I have had only one period of un-employment in 30 years, the 7 months back in 2010 when I was made redundant - and I chose to have a break as I was very lucky with a nice pay off from a job with a company that had employed me for over 19 years, promoted me several times and given me bonuses based on good performance... but you see still I know that deep down I was just pulling the wool over their eyes.  In the job I have now I've successfully worked through a 9 month probationary period (not all who joined around the time I did have survived that) and been told on more than one occasion I'm doing well but of course I know that this is all just smoke and mirrors.

Secondly is my need to be totally self reliant and the fixer of all things for others.  I demand too much of myself, I need to be doing this or that as well as all this.  I can delegate well enough but too often don't and do it myself or don't do it myself as I don't know exactly how rather than passing that onto the person who could no doubt just do it easily.  The fixer of all things is a need to maintain lovely harmony about me, I don't like the vibes of conflict and disagreement and even when the issue is nothing to do with me really (i.e. group a dislike group b's way of doing something and I'm in neither group!) then I need to stand back and accept it is nothing to do with me and up to them to deal with it really.

So work has been busy as someone was moved to a new area of responsibilities and that means I'm having to hold the fort of that role until a new person can join at the end of the month.  This happened on top of an intensive period of work reviewing a large chunk of what my team is responsible for which is taking a good 20% or more of my time through a 6 week period at least.  So it is no wonder I feel a little stretched.   And still no-one has actually lost it with me and told me I'm not doing the right thing and not doing as well as I should be.


  1. Breathe....

    Now repeat after me:

    I am fab.
    I am fab. (Are you doing this?)
    I am fab. (You better be.)
    I am fab. (If you are saying this in the office then you might be getting funny looks - more than normal, I mean. )
    I am fab. (Go get a coffee.)
    I am fab. (After each slurp say, 'I am fab')
    I am fab. (Make up a little tune to go with the words, 'I am fab')
    I am fab. (What are you having for dinner tonight?)
    I am fab. (Play drums with two pens on the desk to accompany your 'I am fab' tune.)
    I am fab.

    Repeat this several times throughout the day.

    You may make up a new tune each time.

    You may change the drum rhythm.

    You may eat cake too. It helps.


  2. My niece got me a mug I'm using at the moment that says in large bold orange and purple letters - "50 and fab"... so must be true.

    The eating cake makes me overweight!

  3. I can relate to a lot of this. Your last sentence here sounds like you're making progress in what is no doubt a very challenging area. The things you want (harmony, help with tasks) are reasonable, but you're still learning your part in getting them. Recognition does seem the first and most important step, so be patient and most of all kind with yourself. You seem harder on yourself than you'd ever be on another.

  4. At least you work in a place that gives out praise.

    I feel for you though, hang on in there, you are obviously doing a fab job.

  5. I'm thinking of printing off the comment by Nic and keeping it by the bed for further use!!!already made up a tune for it!!!

  6. I felt that every single moment when I was at uni. Every day, without exception, I felt a fraud. I have never had a single original thought in my life, and yet I was supposed to be "making an original contribution to research."

    The things that I am good at aren't really ones I could make a living from, so really, a simple, undemanding job would be best for me!

  7. You're so hard on yourself. My Lord. Isn't the day-to-day grind difficult enough without relentlessly pummeling yourself? Thinking you're a fraud is as old as mankind. Leave it.

  8. @looby - you were in exactly the class of people who apparently suffer with impostor syndrome the most

  9. If it's any consolation, I too suffer from Imposter Syndrome, as do most of the creative people I know. In fact, even now I'm thinking that in a way I DON'T actually 'suffer' from Imposter Syndrome because it's not just some syndrome, or an imaginary perception in my case... I REALLY AM an imposter! :-/

    Still...whilst it is a struggle feeling that you're a 'fraud', please keep reminding yourself of all the things you've achieved and continue to achieve and all the proof you have of your worth. (I'll try it too.)

  10. And I'm sure they won't. You know - deep down - that you are good at what you do. but we are all too willing to listen to the little monster that sits on our shoulder whispering lies, of whatever kind.

    You could write a tune for that ditty of Nic's.

  11. i know this one. as Nic said: breathe.

    remember, the opposite condition from "the imposter syndrome" is far worse, and can in fact be fatal, as those who work with you are likely to attach electrodes to the urinal...

    the "Unwarranted Arrogance Syndrome". those who believe they are better at their job than they are, and constantly remind others of this. they unleash relentless demands for promotions and entitlements, while failing to accomplish a single thing of substance, other than to arrange placques and awards on walls and desks...

  12. As a person who grew up in an alcoholic household, I am very familiar with the feelings you shared. The feelings of inadequacy, "not good enough", of being a Rube, an unsophisticated oddball out of sync with your peer group and co-workers, being more comfortable taking care of others or fixing (rather than allowing yourself to be cared for), a charlatan, wanting to control a situation, etc. Good old co-dependency. We never really completely get over it, do we? Just remember what I always tell myself: "It's all about progress...not perfection." (Also, oddly enough, it seems to run especially deep with people who are musically inclined...)

  13. Woo yah. Imposter syndrome. I always felt like everyone else knew stuff when I was stumbling along trying not to let them see I wasn't the same.

    One good thing about getting older is that I realized lots of people are faking it. And now I'm better about saying when I don't know something. I don't mind looking clueless when, ya know, I am. Much better to ask. And sometimes you look smarter and stronger for not being afraid to admit you've got flaws. At least with the people who matter.

  14. Oh yeah, I know this feeling, only I called it being a fraud. I am not sure where it comes from, but I have felt it. Have written about it. The weird thing is, we are not imposters. Why do we feel that when we succeed and it is real?