This is something that I struggle with in all areas of my life. Always thinking that someone will catch me out as being a fraud, charleton or being somewhere or doing something I know nothing about.
At work I find myself in meetings regularly with people who are higher banding than me, have a higher level of authority and responsibility. However, I’m there because I’m the one person in the room that knows about how my service works. Or do I? My boss will sometimes call me to ask my opinion on something or for advice and often prefaces it with “I just want to run this by you to see what you think”. Sometimes it has nothing to do with me or my team.
In bellringing environments I hold a number of roles within my local Association and on the Central Council of Church Bellringers. I’m asked for my opinion, or to comment on something or even for advice.
As Public Relations Officer for both I am asked by the media for comment or opinion with a “can I quote you”? In which case I’d better make sure I don’t say anything stupid.
This week I was approached by a BBC journalist asking for comment about an incident that had happened earlier that day. It was the first I’d heard of it, so how could I possibly comment. I issued a holding statement to say that we were trying to gather further information and that it would not be appropriate to speculate at this time.
I knew that this would be picked up by bellringers on social media, so essentially circulated the same message via the Councils social media.
Then I get a call the next day from someone connected to the incident thanking me for the statement that I had issued and that it was a measured response. They were being asked by all sorts to comment about it and wanted my advice on how to handle it. What should they say to their own members? I gave some advice, based on what I would probably do in the same situation and based on my experiences with dealing with the press and media. I was thanked profusely for my advice with a “oh, I didn’t think about that” and a “could I come back to you if I need anything else”? Well, yes of course if you think I might be able to help.
I’m no expert in anything. I have learned things along the way and I have a modecom of common sense. I guess for some people that means I’m a suitable person to ask for advice.
I once went to a sugarcraft lesson with a great baking buddy. When I arrived she asked me why I was attending her class. “You know this and could probably teach it yourself “. But this is my therapy. Like bellringing you have to concentrate on what you are doing and I get to eat cake at the end of the day.
This is my chance to do something on my own, a bit of me time and you can always pick up a tip or two.
One of the other students showed everyone a photo of a cake she’d made recently where it had bulged at the edges and didn’t look neat. She asked what had caused this. The teacher and some of the others all offered responses which didn’t really seem to satisfy the questioner. I then suggested it was that she had overfilled the layers with butter cream. When you whip buttercream you are whipping air into it to make it light and soft. She had then put another heavy layer of cake on top and over the course of an hour or so, the weight of the top cake was squishing the air out of the buttercream and causing it to collapse. Everyone decided that this was the correct answer and the teacher announced that she hadn’t thought of that and she knew who to come to for advice now. Who? me? What do I know? Just applied some common sense.
There are times when my Imposter Phenomenon really does make me wonder why people ask me, why am I the one they call or want an opinion from. What alteria motive do they have? Are they trying to catch me out?
I can offer an opinion based on my knowledge and common sense what you choose to do with it is up to you.
2 thoughts on “The Imposter Phenomenon”
I think we all suffer from Imposter Syndrome in certain parts of our lives. But agree that life experience and common sense are often all you need
Here’s a cute story about imposter syndrome from Neil Gaiman…
Worth a read!