Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Imposter syndrome at work

Having grown up poor and seeing how both parents work low-wage, labor-heavy jobs just to provide, I’ve been imbued with a sense that you earn your money by working hard - physically hard, that is. If you’re not constantly doing something during work hours, then you are definitely not earning that paycheck. That mentality have served me well in my younger years as it’s all about the hustle and doing the most in order to standout amongst a crowd. Now that I’m decently established in my current job, the inherited thinking from my parents causes a bit of internal conflict.

My job is mainly to help people when they need technical assistance with technology in a classroom. If an instructor have trouble plugging a Macbook Pro into the ceiling projector, I am his Huckleberry. As is the tendency of this kind of work, some days we get an endless amount of phone calls, and others there’s nary a troubleshoot to be had. It’s on those less busy days where I am sat waiting for the next call that the feelings of an imposter and not fully-deserving of my salary, creeps in.

I can’t seem to reconcile my upbringing with the fact I mostly get paid for my knowledge and expertise, and only a small portion is for actual physical work. Indeed this is what a typical white-collar job looks like, and I guess my blue-collar childhood carries some residual effects on whether or not I think myself worthy of such a role. That’s my unique sort of imposter syndrome: am I doing enough to deserve this job? I constantly ask myself this.

Indeed I’ve achieved the hopes of my parents, to not have to trade physical labor for a meager salary, and I am profoundly grateful for it. However, sometimes that gratitude can corrupt itself into an adverse sense of fear that it can all be taken away in short order. So I work hard justify my position, and mentally stress about my competence level. I’m sure in a perverse way that thinking has helped me get to the place I am today, but looking forwards I really could do without with the unnecessary stress.

At some point I need to be confident in what I can do and not worry about the tangible amounts in I am doing. It’s simply the nature of the work.

Indeed it does, writing-on-the-bathroom-wall guy.

Twitter imposter syndrome

Sometimes twitter can be quite depressing, but not in the way that you’d expect. No, I am not one of those people who lacks self control and get absolutely entrenched into twitter flame wars and arguing matches on for hours on end. I am a nobody; my follower count as of this writing, after nearly a decade on the platform, stands at 186. Half of those I’m convinced are bots.

The thing about the twitter that depresses me is the sheer amount of intelligence on display. The reason I can’t quit the platform even though it’s one of my biggest time-sucks is because I learn so much from so many people, from all areas of life. The sheer knowledge and the way people can articulate it within the framework of 280 words per single tweet is something I am in awe of almost every day. Nowhere do I feel more like an imposter than on twitter, where everyone seems to be and probably is smarter than I am.

That’s not exactly a negative - I learn plenty from those people ,after all - but it does make me doubt my own abilities and knowledge sometimes.

I have to remind myself the witty and eloquent people on my feed have immensely more experience than I do, and their smarts don’t invalidate my current standing - we’re simply on different life levels. Those people have been immersed in their respective industries for decades, so of course someone like me in his early 30s isn’t going to have remotely comparable knowledge or eloquence. My false move is equivocating a similar standing between myself and the people I follow. With enough hard work and continued learning, I will get to the same level someday and be a wizened master dishing out tactics and qualified opinions.

I mustn’t skip ahead of myself.

Back in my early college days when I was active in a local car club, everyone else seemed to be driving far cooler cars than my lowly Toyota Corolla, or people with the same car had more modifications and extra bits on theirs than mine. The inadequacy I felt was intense, being so one-track minded (and very immature) that I failed to detach from the situation and see that those with more/better were simply further in stages of life. Of course the fully-realized adult with a full-time job is going to have a far nicer vehicle than me who’ve only started university.

A decade later I am able to detach and look at the macro view, but sometimes I still want to run before I’ve fully learned walking.

A rainy day for SMU commencement.