Just wait until they realize I have no idea what I'm doing...

When was the last time you felt like an impostor?

I’m smiling despite the feeling I’m totally winging it.

I’m smiling despite the feeling I’m totally winging it.

If you cannot remember, well, congratulations! Otherwise, welcome on board!

That’s me in the picture by the way, in my first job after graduating from college. I was a trainee at a major market research company in Brazil. In my very first job rotation, the person assigned to work with me only had a few days to train me before she took her vacations. I tried to absorb all of it, taking notes and trying very hard not to ask stupid questions.

And, sure enough, while she was absent I received a request from the field team in Chile, regarding the codebook. I had no idea what a codebook was, so I told the guy at the end of the line that I was new in the team and started asking questions to figure out what he was talking about. I was shaking from head to toe as we talked, feeling there was no possible way I could handle the job and everyone would find out I was useless and I would get fired. My interlocutor kindly explained to me what he needed to know, I nervously laughed inside at how big a problem I had pictured when it was actually quite simple, and everything worked out well.

I felt like an impostor virtually every time I started a new project.

Still, that trainee experience could have taught me early on that, when we start something new, we are not going to know all the answers. We are going to have to ask, and try, and sometimes fail, and learn, and succeed, and finally feel that we’re totally awesome at what we do, before moving to the new challenge and starting the cycle again. (Or, alternatively, we may, in fact, realize that we’re not cut out for that job and look for something that better matches our profile).

How do you handle your episodes of impostors’ syndrome? Are you interested in a workshop on that topic?