New Jobs and Imposter Syndrome

Carnival Venetian Mask
Carnival Venetian Mask from Uroburos via Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)

Any day now the going to have a new president. For those of us who don’t know the American election system well, the actual date of the beginning of his presidency is a moving target. There was the date of the election, but that’s not it. That was followed with a count of the mail-in ballot, but that wasn’t it either. Then, there was the date of the Electoral College vote, but that’s also not it.  January 1 seemed like a good day to begin, but that wasn’t it either. I think it might be some time next week, but who knows?

Anyway, as he starts his new job, I kind of feel sorry for him.  Well, not really him exactly, but I do know how it feels to be the new person at the office or plant.

Have you ever talked your way into a job you weren’t totally qualified for? If you have, then you know that the first day is a Star Wars-style battle between their reality and your ability, with the image you created at the interview thrown in just to be impressive. Or, in Star Wars terms, the Resistance. So, you fake it until you make it.

I have never actually done this, at least, that’s what I’m telling you now, but with every new job I felt the imposter syndrome you have read so much about. There wasn’t such a thing as an imposter syndrome when I lived it, but the feeling existed nonetheless. It is that feeling in your bones that says “Even though I’ve had eight years of post-secondary education and ten years of experience, but they are going to know I’m a fraud.”

I have a hunch that the new president is going to be feeling that, bigly. He’s going to be thinking “How the heck did I get myself into this?” and “How do I fake it until I make it?” Of course, he’s pretty good at this, having practised it a few times already, but even for him this has got to be a big step into an unfamiliar work world.

Hang in there, buddy.  We all know how you feel. It’s OK. We’re right behind you.  We’ll show you your office, and the staff lunch room, and where you can and cannot pee.  We’ll also show you where you can find people of your own race and gender, and we’ll show you how to navigate the hallways in a wheelchair, just in case you might need to know that one day.

Then we’ll watch you embarrass yourself at meetings and take you for a beer afterwards. After all, you’ll need some occasional reassurance. We’ll notice when you inadvertently insult people in emails and state popular untruths in your Twitter feed, but mostly we’ll let that slide. After all, sometimes you have to learn to fight your own battles, face to face, with people who know more about this stuff than you do. It’ll make you stronger. Really, old pal. Trust me.

This is a tough world, and you’ll make a few missteps, but that’s ok. After all, we all learn from our mistakes, right?  Keep doing what you are doing and I’m sure everything will work out fine.

And, if it turns out this wasn’t the right job for you, don’t worry. We’ll help you find a better one. Honestly. We really want you to succeed, preferably somewhere where your talents are appreciated. Of course, in most of those places you’d be an immigrant, but I’m sure you can adjust your principles to accommodate that. In fact, I suspect that would be easy for you. Good luck!




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