A Bad Case of Imposter Syndrome
Photo courtesy of Rocky Lubbers.

A Bad Case of Imposter Syndrome

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence

Sometimes I will get a hankering in my heart to write a blog post. Usually I’ll have a topic in mind, but not always. Sometimes I’ll just want to connect with my peeps and express myself– to see and be seen.

I’ve been feeling that pull lately. I’ve also been feeling a great deal of Resistance, and imposter syndrome, which has been getting in the way.

See, this really good thing happened to Puttylike a few weeks ago. TED.com noticed us. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of you began embracing your identity as multipotentialites. It’s wonderful. My inbox became a glorious lovefest of kind words and stories. I even got recognized once or twice around Portland!

The recognition and reaction felt incredible. It’s what I’ve been working towards these last five years. I was over the moon. But as an introvert, I also felt very exposed. I mean, two separate people called me a “legend” yesterday. How do I write anything that’s going to live up to that?! My inner critic was working overtime.

With people recognizing me in public, I worried on those days when I didn’t feel so well. I worried that people were watching me. My anxiety began acting up, and I had to talk it down, gently.

Even now, I fear publishing these words because I’m afraid that you will think that I’m complaining about my success, or that I’m trying to manipulate you in some kind of grand, marketing scheme.

I’m not looking for praise or reassurance. If anything, I’m just hoping that sharing my fears and insecurities will help you see that even “successful” people struggle with perfectionism, Resistance, and imposter syndrome.

I tweeted about these issues yesterday, and one kind multipod asked me whether imposter syndrome ever goes away. I’m not sure if it does, but as Amanda Palmer explains (in her brilliant book that I won’t stop recommending to everyone I know), sometimes public recognition just makes the Fraud Police sound their sirens louder.

I’m not sure if it ever fully leaves us, but I think it gets better as you connect with the people you’ve touched, and you see the difference that your work is making.

So thank you all for the kind words. Really, truly. Thank you.

I’m not perfect, and I may write some lame blog posts or disappoint you in the future. But I will keep putting my ideas out into the world, and I will keep learning, honing my ideas, and pushing myself to be vulnerable.

Your Turn

Have you experienced imposter syndrome or resistance following success or recognition of some sort? Share your stories in the comments below.

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.

121 Comments

  1. Tom Niessen Sr says:

    Dear Emilie,

    I saw your TED presentation by pure chance and it answered many questions and also asked even more. My whole life has been spent searching for answers to some cutting questions.

    I should have pursued a pro Tennis career – instead discovered girls and after heartache, booze and smokes. (Now given up and seized)

    I should have gone to College to study a Doctorate in Astro-Physics and work for NASA.

    I should be a CEO of a public company by now, by all of my work over the last 25 years when I decided against college and continue in employment.

    Instead, I am a self-employed gregarious genius and futurist, IT guru and operational systems creator, using none of those talents, working in oil & gas and subsea for quality engineering and inspections purposes. I ask myself WTF every day and have done for years. I have achieved nothing tangible and feel like I have been a failure. At least according to how Society perceives us all!!!

    However…. I have been happily married for 16 years, have a 11 year old daughter who is hugely talented in everything she does (MultiPod mini me) and a six year old son who is plutonium charged and equally another MultiPod mini-mite :)

    I don’t know why I told you all that, on a public website for all to read…. probably because it was about time that the world knew, but the point is since I have heard and read you, you have pushed a button in me that says GO!!!! My biggest problem has always been self-belief, which is ludicrously funny since I am able to do so much more than most others and that much better with far less experience.

    You keep doing what you are doing. Your courage and passion through the TED talk was inspiring and it is about time that all Rennaisencites are recognised for what they all truly are.

    Thank you! and I hope we all have a chance to meet you while out and about or at the local Bean for a cup of coffee one day. I certainly would like to .

    Best Wishes

    Tom

    • Dana says:

      I can totally relate to your comment. I am multi-talented as well and can do more than most people. I took it for granted until I saw Emilie’s TED talk. I ordered her book Renaissance Business too.

    • Min Zee says:

      Dear Tom, It is nice to read that men have these questions about what they think they should have done or could have done. I think it is safe to say, that men tend to stay quiet about what they “really” wanted to do with their lives; for the obvious reasons. But like you, when I came across Emilie’s Ted Talk, someone finally had put a name on something I had felt all along and still feel to this day. I start many projects, and begin to read many books, but I am always being pulled by the next interest. Don’t get me wrong, I have a B.A in Political Science, an M.A in Education, a Teaching Credential (Bilingual-Spanish), and I take continuing education courses in a myriad of things. These abovementioned “accomplishments” show that I had to discipline myself to earn the degrees. It was never easy to stay focused because I was also thinking about all the other things of interest. Today, I am trying to write children’s literature, taking a writing class and tomorrow it may be something else. It’s always good to know we are not alone. It is great that Emilie has come along and was interested enough to talk about and identify what a lot of us were feeling. Only a multipotentilite could do that.

    • Brian Flint says:

      It astounded me to come across the concept of ‘imposter syndrome’. “impostor?” –

      I can’t even begin to describe how this maps to my life experiences.

      The thing most fascinating (on first reflection), is that I’ve always considered myself to be an amazingly competent failure. This concept of multipotentialist coupled with the philosophy I’ve developed over decades explains much of this feeling as a ghost-ship crashing upon reefs of an increasingly self-serving capitalist mountain-side.

      And then find Emilie who throws me a rope to climb from what was an internalized sense of insufficiency.

      Thank you Emilie.

  2. James says:

    I read at least 20 blogs on a weekly basis. I do not subscribe to any of them, except for Puttylike. New and old content pop-ups in my Goggle Now feed, and to my surprise it was one of your posts.

    I thought, ‘oh great another lame content from the past from Emillie!’

    But this time it was new lame content!

    Emillie keep up the great work!

  3. Joan says:

    Oh Emilie,

    You needn’t worry about Imposter Syndrome, you are one truly unique, REAL and inspirational individual. If you weren’t feeling all of those conflicting emotions I wouldn’t have started listening to you in the first place. You speak my language and give my thoughts a voice…keep it up…you don’t disappoint those of us that like their inspiration in a relatable form and format.

    Thanks…Joan

  4. Ingrid says:

    I have not left a comment yet (I just recently joined in). But now I want to write this.
    I know what you are going trough. This “imposter syndrome” is very familiair to me. When I am succesful in one or more areas and people do admire the succes, I am always thinking: “but….” (this could have done better/I am not as good as they think/maybe someone will unmask that I am doing things wrong/ and so on). it is a kind of being a perfectionist and not wanting to fail, mostly because of your own high standards.
    Maybe you should think of the connection you have made with so many “multipotentialites”
    that is what I appreciate and I think this is your intention after all?

  5. Anne says:

    Nope, you’re not alone. I feel like an imposter regularly and often. However, I am blessed with friends who aren’t afraid to challenge me. The next time you feel that your success is undeserved, ask yourself, “Is that really true?” Validation from people who truly get you goes a long way towards warding off those paralyzing imposter syndrome attacks.

  6. Deepti says:

    And nor do we need to little down in the crest of success, or be apologetic for it, or pre-emot disappointing anyone – we can just be and take up space. You’re onto something Emilie – steady as she goes. You just connected some heavy-duty and impactful dots for a lot of people – that’s fulfilling, and important – totally stand in that. We are all with you :) power on!

    • Maria says:

      YES! “you’re onto something Emilie – steady as she goes.”
      Trust yourself and your vision Emilie!! You’ve got this!!

  7. Amanda says:

    I am blessed with being a multipotentialite and yet suffer from impostor syndrome as well. It seems the closer we are to success the louder our inner self screams impostor and tries to manipulate us out of it!

    I have been experience impostor syndrome hard these past few weeks as I train hard for an upcoming gig. I have been studying aerial arts for a little more than a year and my goal since day one was to be able to put together a routine and perform for an audience, even a small recital type audience of only friends of family, anything… and the opportunity has come! I will be performing not one but two gigs before the year is out. At first I was stoked! but now the impostor syndrome is kicking in… whom am I to perform for an audience? I have barely learned a routine and am barely able to do a few tricks on the trapeze without dying… whenever I tell people “I am learning trapeze!” they always respond with “oh! like… Cirque Du Soleil?” ummm yeah sort of like that… actually no nothing like that considering they are top notch … is that what people expect? will they be dissapointed with my performance? I’m not that good, in fact i’m terrible, i should just quit now…

    Impostor syndrom feels like the worst thing in the world… but there is one thing even worse and that is letting it win and quitting. I have worked hard for a year and the opportunity has come and am I’m going to quit, wave as it flies by, and stay safe by doing nothing? Craziness! My instructors believe in me, they could have said no to me, didn’t have to offer me the opportunity, but they did so they must believe I am worthy of it. This sort of situation anyone can relate to and apply to their life. You Emilie have a wonderful group of fans who believe in you, love when your human side comes out, a successful human is someone we can relate to and feel compassion for. Same as my audience, same as anyone’s support group no matter the form, no matter the size. We multipotentialite are destined for awesomeness so we mustn’t quit, we mustn’t deprive the world of our skills, our message, and our art.

  8. Liz says:

    You’re realness is so real and so kind and actually quite inspiring.

  9. Mair says:

    Every effing day! I finished a PhD 14 years ago and have worked in the field off and on. When I’m in the flow, I love it and feel like I am making a difference. Then, I can’t decide what I want to do next. Do I want to keep doing that work? Am I good enough? Do I have enough courage to start my own consulting biz (uh, not currently — because, IMPOSTER!) My resume/CV shows something new every 2 – 3 years in general, and this has made me feel more like an imposter (except now that I realized I’m a multi-pod, I had a blip of hope about it!) I am 47 and worry about “how it looks” that I have a PhD and work at a food co-op (which I mostly love, since local food and healthy living is another one of my huge interest areas). Some days its all groovy, other days I’m sure everyone knows that I have no freaking idea what I’m doing…

    • Kate says:

      Hi Mair, your post resonated with me. I’m 45 and have a similar CV to you. My personal theory is that people generally judge others according to their own worldview and when they can’t make sense of another person’s life choices, they may express this negatively. When I interpret what others are doing as sense-making, and accept that the unique way I have approached my life may invoke curiousity/anxiety for others, my fear of ‘how it looks’ are minimised. Both your Phd and working in a food co-op are expressions of your diverse interests and your uniqueness. It ‘looks’ pretty awesome to me!

      • Eve says:

        Hi Mair and Kate,
        I also am mid-40s, have my PhD, and haven’t worked directly in my field for awhile and am not sure that I will again. I fell into the work that I’ve done for the last few years largely because it was fairly portable and we move often due to my husband’s job. Right now I’m on a break of sorts and am at home with our toddler and I have no idea of what comes next. What I was doing is safe but I am bored with it and I think it is time (when I go back to work) to try something new but I don’t know what (and haven’t even started to figure it out yet) but I know that my CV is going to lead to some interesting conversations that will hopefully let me land in the right next place … Wherever that is…

  10. Jennifer says:

    As a yoga instructor, I totally get the whole “imposter syndrome” thing. People look at me and go, “What the hell is a white chick doing teaching yoga? She’s probably just a poser.” But what everyone else things doesn’t really matter – what we know is true in our hearts is what’s most important, and when our work comes from a place of authenticity, people know it! Carry on!

  11. Benna says:

    I stumbled up on your Ted talk yesterday and was so happy after I watched because it gave me hope and confirmed maybe if that is the right word that I wasn’t flawed just because many things interest me also it gave my son hope because he as a 17 old kid who is only starting at life wants to learn so many things but had a difficult time choosing just one and this ted talk showed him that he can learn many things and use them in his life, the school system is how ever always telling our kids that they must choose just one carrier.

    Also I’m so with you on this imposter syndrome that’s so me also so I applaud you to not let the fear control you but going a head and publish because this gives all of us hope because we as human beings are all imperfect and have good and bad days :)

  12. george says:

    Oh, dearie, i was just thinking somewhere along those lines yesterday, as i was feeling inadequate, because i cannot find too many people to relate in real life, and i just need to compartmentalize and have specific talks with different friends. Doh, i was feeling that somehow is my fault that i spend a beautiful day of Tuesday researching aeroponics, personal finance, reading old books about genius and talented children from the beginning of the 20th century, studying a new roller board idea and after that going to a night shift (yeah, i know, i still need to work if only for the mundane goal to make some money to help my lil’ br’o wedding). But i stopped for a moment, and i realized. Hey, i do not need to worry because i feel inadequate. I need to be proud of it. Means that i still got it, means that i do not accept everything blindly and i search for more. Imposter syndrome is in fact just a sign that it is still room for improvement.

    p.s. please excuse me :) if i misspelled some words, i just wrote everything in a rush.

  13. Nela says:

    Just a few days ago I listened to Seanwes podcast where they talked about imposter syndrome, and they also concluded that it never really goes away.
    I got a bad case of imposter syndrome on two occasions when I got a “best science fiction artist” award – one national in 2007, and one on a European level in 2012. I thought there were better artists more deserving of the award, that it was too early in my career and I haven’t even proven myself yet, that people must have voted for me because they like me as a person, and not because my work is objectively better… My entire experience of receiving this honor was tainted. I really wish I knew how to appreciate it better. I’d go back and say to my younger self that she deserved all of it.

  14. James says:

    As some as you have already commented, the problem with Imposter Syndrome and being a multipotentialite and Imposter Syndrome, is that it never goes away. If you haven’t already figured it out, we change, some of us change more often than others.

    Get over it!

    It will never go away! Don’t let it stop you diving into another interest, career, or hobby.

    If one of us invented a magic pill to eliminate this amazing and life changing condition. You, we, and I would resent it from the moment we took the first prescription. Think about it before you swallow that pill. You will never be interested in anything else, except for the one thing you are currently doing.

    You could currently be trying to become the ‘Jenga Champion of the Universe!’ Day after day you will do the same thing, over and over. Did you ever see Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray?

    It has prevented me launching many projects, now I am writing drafts and I WILL publish them. Now I am training for my second 5k race and I WILL train for the 10k, 15k and 30k. I WILL start my small business. I WILL design my retirement home. I WILL do other things too.

    I am taking a sabbatical from the internet, except for this blog, just so I can cleanse my mind from all the distractions that has prevented me from my goals.

    “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey

    If you need other ideas for overcoming Imposter Syndrome, see Startup Bros post 21 Proven Ways To Overcome Impostor Syndrome at http://startupbros.com/21-ways-overcome-impostor-syndrome/. There are some great ideas for beginners, StartUps, and professionals.
    ( No SPAM Intended)

  15. Morgan says:

    Yes, totally! Thank you for this. Someone called me “beautiful and wise” in my work when introducing me to someone else online recently, and boy did I feel imposter syndrome ;) (DO they realise I often don’t know what I am doing??)I have also had more and more people joining my online community which feels GREAT but is also exposing this fear – suddenly lots of people looking to me as some kind of expert. But then, I could find those qualities of beautiful wisdom in me, and maybe they aren’t there ALL of the time, and are overshadowed by fear etc, but that is OK. I can write about the fear too, and that will help others.

    James, great idea to take a sabbatical from the internet. I may do so, except for what I need to do for work (tricky!), but I think it definitely contributes to thoughts of comparison and imposter syndrome stuff…and distraction from goals.

  16. Beth says:

    Great timing for this post, I can really relate to that anxiety Emilie. Though I’ve not experienced exposure anything like the scale you’ve just hit, this year my main business has grown exponentially.

    At first, I was overjoyed, had a little shopping spree, made some exciting plans for taking things further. And then after a couple of months, this anxiety suddenly hit me. Like, ‘who the heck do I think I am?’ and ‘what if everyone figures out I’m just totally winging it?’ It has literally made me want to shut the whole thing down and hide under a rock.

    As people have said, I don’t think imposter syndrome goes away, and some of the most successful people around have discussed it very frankly.

    For me I think the most helpful approach is simply to name it, to be able to step back from it when it feels like that, and say ‘this is what’s happening’. Getting a little righteous or political about it can help too. As in ‘why would I feel that I don’t deserve this?’ It’s right on to feel the fear and do it anyway!

  17. Mike Bruny says:

    You’re the best (not to add fuel to the fire) Emilie! Thanks for always showing up as you are. Oh Imposter Syndrome. I never feel that with a word like, “ambassador” in my name and more interest and curiosity than my wife can bare.

    I’m currently working on my next career and as I look at the job descriptions that are looking for X amount of years doing this or X amount of doing that, there is definitely resistance to apply because I feel like, “I don’t really belong there,” or “How do I explain my resume or cover letter that I can do the work and I bring a whole toolbox of skill set and experiences that provide value we can’t even write on paper.”

    So yes, imposter syndrome and resistance are here. I’m dancing with them one day at a time.

    • Anjuli says:

      Hi Mike,

      Have you considered claiming the high ground. I had that same issue with my CV, and a few years ago introduced myself with a line about my “portfolio career”, which, begs the question, makes it legitimate, and says that you have something that they don’t. Then come the details and they can “Oh, this is actually a career,” or “Wow! Some people do this for real.” I’ve not noticed suspect reactions since I’ve started describing my career as a portfolio career. Any new path I want to pursue, I describe as adding to my portfolio. If others want to get into a conversation about it, it’s no longer to challenge or ridicule, but to find out more. Perhaps it’s the label that gives it legitimacy. I don’t know.

      Thanks Emilie, for getting this whole thing going.

    • Anjuli says:

      Hi Mike,

      Have you considered claiming the high ground? I had that same issue with my CV, and a few years ago added a line about my “portfolio career”, which, begs the question, makes it legitimate, and says that you have something that they don’t. Then come the details and they can say “Oh, this is actually a career,” or “Wow! Some people do this for real.”

      I’ve not noticed suspect reactions since I’ve started describing my career as a portfolio career. Any new path I want to pursue, I describe as adding to my portfolio. If others want to get into a conversation about it, it’s no longer to challenge or ridicule, but to find out more. Perhaps it’s the label that gives it legitimacy. I don’t know.

      Thanks Emilie, for getting this whole thing going.

  18. Zarayna says:

    Dear Emilie and community,

    Please allow me to express my gift for crudity to précis this little problem:-

    Intelligent people are aware of how much there is to understand about everything – the limitless interactions within complexity – and are humbled by their insights and the responsibilities that ensue.

    Thick people are unaware of anything other than that which is immediately in front of them. Thus, they can live and operate with supreme confidence – they imagine they have a handle on everything important.

    I think we can see a perennial problem throughout history – the intelligent gather data and wisdom before taking action which will impact on others. The thickos just charge forward generating chaos wherever they are allowed to operate.

    I could go on but I won’t.

    So, thank you Emilie – hope you can laugh and be kind to yourself – it’s always been a wacky world.

    • Brian Flint says:

      Zarayna & all;
      It seems to me the multipotentialites are explorers, curious and by reason of logic; intelligent by some degree or other.
      While I honestly have difficulty understanding how some folks come by their, seemingly, very limited breadth of contemplative deduction; I have to be careful in judging them. Some just need to be shown another path, another reason to contemplate something different and then are adept at taking those steps to consider and modify.
      There are those who’s conduct seems extremely contrary to logic, reason and experience – but are in actuality simply devoted to an egoistic outcome. This is the care of judgement I find myself carefully navigating.

      • Zarayna says:

        Hello Brian,

        Thank you for reading my waffle and for responding.
        How lovely that you are amongst the minority who realise that there is a difference between those whose views are shallow because they are but first impressions and are awaiting encouragement to blossom into beautiful, life- enhancing thoughts, words and deeds, and those whose views are shallow because they reflect the limitations of their owners.
        I wish you well in your quest to judge fairly.
        I am in the fortunate position of being very old. Therefore my choices diminish along with my allotted time. It upsets me to see gifted souls use their talents in being considerate of the views of those who do not wish to expand their horizons or reciprocate in such considerations of others. They are content to weaponize their limitations so that they can claim territorial rights on views and biases and claim them as ‘truths.’
        It would appear that there is more money and mundane power in generating problems than in solving them.
        I wish you well in your navigation – may the wind fill your sails and you find a safe harbour should storms approach.
        Bon voyage!

  19. Sarah says:

    I can so completely relate to this feeling! (Not that I’m claiming success on this level at all!). But, it’s kind of like that part in HP and the Order of the Phoenix (I tend to relate a lot of things back to Harry Potter heh) where Harry is the centre of attention amongst his peers on account of all of his achievements. He struggles with their perception of him as a leader/hero; when his friends relate back his accomplishments without the context of all the hard work, the failures, the successes, the uncertainty, it sounds to him to be grander than the reality of it. He feels like he’s lying to people because they don’t see the whole story.

    That’s what I think imposter syndrome is on some level—people see our polished achievements out of context of the imperfect processes it took to make them happen. It makes us feel that we have more to live up to than we really do, because it can create the illusion for others that success happened over night.

    But here Emily, you’ve been sharing your struggles and successes—your hard work and your progress—for 5 years, and we all see what amazing things you have achieved by the sheer amount of effort and dedication you’ve had to this cause! You are no imposter, and you’ve earned your every success!

  20. Ruud says:

    “The Paradoxical Commandments”

    People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.

    If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.

    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.

    Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.

    The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.

    People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.

    People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.

    Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

    By Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution.

    Seemed quite appropriate… Be a Multipod anyway!!!
    Emilie, just keep fighting for those Multipods!!!

  21. Claudia says:

    Dear Emily,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. Seriously. When I watched your TED Talk I thought “finally someone like me!”, and now I am even more glad that I have found somebody sharing thougts extremely similar to mine.
    I grew up in a wealthy and extremely caring family and environment where everybody always kept me asking “Why aren’t you satisfied wwith yourself?! You’re good looking, speaking 5 languages, travelled to 4 continents alone by the age of 19, you’ve got the world at your feet!!” but the more I heard it the less I appreciated my qualities. And what’s worst, everytime I have an idea (and I always have soo many) I’m too afraid that it won’t be THAT bright and interesting, that it won’t be THAT appreciated.

    So as I know it won’t give that 100% appreciation boost, I won’t thank you a million time for your voice. But I kindly ask you to externate your feelings everytime you feel the need, because that’s what truly makes a person succesful.

    I hope I’ll manage to be in touch with you in the future, I’ve decided to take part to your community =).

    Bye for now.

    Claudia

  22. Mies says:

    Dear Emilie, I’m happy to read you are still human ;). Its a fear of not deserving acknowledgement for your hard work. your TED became a wake-up call for me and I’m proud to say that I became more productive then ever.

    Normally I’m the guy that If he can find it for free and (borrow) it from our wide web than I will trie to get it. but in your case I did’t! and I’m glad for it! the important reason for this is because your point of view focusses on the creation of human wealth. Not money or material things but how to reset your emotional tape that was playing on repeat over and over in our heads! and record something new and proactive!

    I even found my new profession,

    kind regards!

    Mies
    Mapmaker, Pioneer, Rebel

  23. Do?a says:

    Hehe. That’s what unexpected fame makes you feel like :P

    Joking aside, these are all very humane (and social) feelings. IMHO, as long as you keep focusing on your goals -as you did until now- you just cannot go wrong. You are still there, wherever you are. The feeling of being watched may be disturbing, though it doesn’t change your identity. You still are the same you. Your firm roots are untouched, do not worry.

    I just would like to remind that we all (and by “all” I mean “all”, including Obama and all those awesome photo models and the butcher at the corner, the teacher, your granma, you name it…) act in ways which we later find lame. We have our weaknesses. To me, seing these humane and “unperfect” details and acts make people feel closer, warmer, more sincere.

    So, your inner critic may have unzipped its mouth, I’d say let it do whatever it wants to do. You are you, still at the same spot, aware of yourself, your wishes and your goals, sharing your experiences in life… And we thank you for that :)

  24. Mike says:

    We are frauds and imposters. At least that’s what it feels like. Since we are always starting something new but often bring impressive credentials with us, people expect a lot from us and we expect a lot from ourselves. When we don’t deliver something amazing as quickly as might be expected, we feel like frauds. Your TED talk and writings have helped me understand why I often feel like a fraud. Thank you.

  25. Hemant says:

    Have you heard of Histronic Personality Disorder ? When I read about it I saw agreeing with most of what was written there. I don’t know that if I actually have that disorder being 23, as it says it usually affects people entering the adult zone. Please look into it if possible, I see a connection between the impostor syndrome you have explained and the things mentioned about HPD. Want to know if there are others who feel the same about it

  26. Angelo says:

    Wow. I was just talking to my wife about this two weeks ago. I currently teach martial arts, mostly kids karate. Every so often I get to teach adults, which I love (I get to use big words). That’s time I get that imposter syndrome. Whether its about cars ( I was a mechanic for 14 years), or construction (real estate for 15), whenever I am in a position of being “the professional”. One way I combat the syndrome is to stay humble and keep my awareness on learning something new. Kind of what you are doing in your blog. Thanks Emilie.

  27. Anjuli says:

    Dear Emily,

    I understand the ‘imposter syndrome’ thing and am familiar with that anxiety. I think you’ve pointed towards a way out of it yourself: “it gets better as you connect with the people you’ve touched, and you see the difference that your work is making.” This definitely makes a big difference to me, as does creating a public picture of myself as I would like the world to see me, showing that my many and diverse interests and pursuits are what make me special and someone whom I can live with. The implications being: 1. you don’t have to live with me; but I do, and 2. I value myself on my own terms; how about you?

    I think that we do get a grudging admiration from those who would readily declare our purposelessness or worse, because we enjoy a freedom from the kind of straightjacket, treadmill career norms that they dare not or cannot break free from for fear of losing all, yet we seem to be none the worse for not complying. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like we’re defying gravity.

    So if we go around feeling like imposters, it is us who are shoring up the very people who are making us feel like imposters. I’ve done exactly what you’ve done: created a website where I see all of me in all my polymathic glory. People who might be inclined to think I can’t do any one thing expertly for doing so many things end up coming away from the website saying, “Wow! You do so much!” They cannot but say that because it’s patently obvious that having multiple talents, interests, pursuits and potentials is not a defect — quite the opposite.

    Thank you for giving me a chance to share.

  28. Anjuli says:

    Hi Emilie,

    I think I just called you ‘Emily’ in my previous post. Sorry!

  29. Mary says:

    Hello to You Emilie!!!
    Thank you so very much for what You do. It has been truly amazing to listen to your Ted Talk and to just begin and be a part of this community.

    Keep up the amazing work you are doing and I finally after 3 decades believe I can be who I am and explore whatever area of life I am in. Currently trying to go back to school @ 50 to become a nurse… but will see where that leads me next. If not I finally feel ok with where I am and will pursue other creative avenues if need be.
    Thank you again and I hope to one day meet You and share a cup of coffee!!

  30. Fran says:

    Oh I love this post and all the comments! I recognize something in everybody’s story. I’ve been fighting impostor syndrome,like, forever it seems. First I became a photo-editor/art director without an education and felt like an impostor. Then I started making photo-art, without a proper art education and I never referred to myself as an artist. Then I became a video-producer…. you guessed it: without a proper education and would not call myself a video-producer or artist. Then I got a real education: I studied to become a marriage counselor. And for 10 years I was… Did my impostor syndrome diminish? Sadly no. Because somewhere deep in my brain this little voice kept saying: Jack of all trades, master of none…nanananana! And that is what society keeps saying to us :-(
    Fortunately my husband keeps reminding me why I was/am an artist/photo editor, marriage counselor, writer, singer, producer etc. He just waves my accomplishments in my face :-D That helps.

  31. Susanne says:

    You bet. Early this summer I took part in the Independent Handbag Designer Awards with a last minute application. Two days later I´d become a finalist, chosen from well over a thousand applicants. Then I had less more then two weeks to find a manufacturer, have my bag made and shipped to New York (wich itself takes a few days, even express).
    I began to develop breathing difficulties and it got so bad I had to be ambulanced to the hopital…So, I had a friend be at the awards ceremony on my behalf and was only able to fly to New York a week later, after my express passport had been issued. I can smile about it all now :)

    Now, I am doing it again :) I´ve put together a crowdfunding campaign, live now on “we make it” (like the self-fullfilling title ;)) and will attaend a design-fair in November with 10.000 visitors.

    I adjusted my mindset and my body-chemistry. I will make it, maybe like a duck: Unruffled on the surface, while paddling like hell underneath ;)

  32. Peggy says:

    Emilie, I can also relate to your imposter phenomenon experience. I first became aware of this concept in graduate school as I worked on my PhD in Psychology ?! It was such a relief at the time to know this was a “real” thing, and that other people had the same experience. I also learned at the time that it was more common in young women. About 15 years ago I got a new take on this from reading and discussing how food/diet affects thoughts, feelings, etc. with Dr. Kathleen des Maisons, whose first book Potatoes Not Prozac changed my life. It seems that those of us who are sugar sensitive are more likely to have these feelings when our food is “off” for what we need to function our best. When I feel the imposter monster approaching I usually will find that my food is “off”…..

  33. Paul Strobl says:

    Great post – way to put yourself out there.

    I think it’s simply a remnant of the old (post WWII) structure of our society that is built for specialists. Ultimately, at the bottom of it all, it’s about shame.

    We learn what is shameful and what isn’t through interaction with our family, culture, schooling and community.

    When we are more anonymous, like living in a big city or another country, our shame is safely hidden. Our perception of how we are viewed is temporarily buried.

    When the spotlight is on us, the tide has dropped and we’re exposed. The buried beliefs of not being good enough (that we learned – we were not born with this) come to the surface.

    Many say that fear is the limiting factor for most being what they want to give to the world. I would argue that it is fear of feeling shame. Fear of being vulnerable.

    There’s a reason why people put there skeletons out to the public before they run for office. If you expose it first, no one can expose you. Making yourself completely vulnerable makes you invulnerable.

  34. Luis says:

    Great post emilie!

    Allow me to add a bit to this topic (and forgive me my english, I am european).

    The bad news… the impostor syndrom is a feeling of shame / ashamed (caused by clustering feelings and event in the past). Emotions are not problems that can be solved, but create conditions that can potentially cause problems. There are no fixes to emotions, and you
    can´t grow completely out of it, or even force yourself to not be exposed to it. It resides within you. There are two good news… the first is that there are ways to deal with impostor so that it cause less problems and frustration in your life. This will require self-development and therapy. Secondly, discovering your own best-practice to dealing with imposter, can be turned into an advantage. A danish poet (Soren Ulrik Thomsen) said…”I have lived for 35 years, and need as many to get over the first”.

    When you, focused and determined, work with your own personal development from the perspective of impostor, you will within months gain a self-awareness that allows you to accept yourself, let go of the past and most importantly you will find and use ressources to move forward and jump into things in life, and become capable of finding and using ressources that you normally wouldn´t develop or use without impostor. It stretches your potential further and empowers you to use your resourcefulness in alternative new ways.

    Impostor is a product of your indentity, being your personality, your intelligence and your experience combined. Research (Dunning and Krugers) shows that highly intelligent people have a realistic perception of their own performance and potential, but compared to a les intelligent person, they have tendency to underestimate themeselves, and overestimate others… ”when it’s so easy for me, it must be easier for everyone else, or I must have been cheating”. Every time we do things better than others (understanding, arguing, analyzing etc), how does it feel to be set straight by someone (regardless of age) who feels and acts as if they know better than us ?? Either you fight against it, or you become insecure and wonder whether they are right. I have done both. Other research reveals a connection between imposter and family connections. Poor or no support between family members. Poor or no openness in regards to emotions. High degree of anger and conflicts in the family.

    Having worked with myself on this topic for two years now, I can definitely confirm that there is hope if you are willing to work hard and over time. There are lots of things you can do to minimize its degree of interfearance in your life, learn to overcome it in most situations, and even take advantage of it. Here are some of them…

    – Identify it the phenomenon depth
    – Describe in detail how your particular version of the syndrom express itself.
    – Let go of the past – feel, understand and accept how it impact on you and and more
    importantly understand what it has protected you against.
    – Visualize – allow the facemask of the imposter syndrom to fall by gradually stepping into
    the light.
    – Rewire yourself – turn and twist all the negative thoughts to something positive and say it
    out loud to yourself.
    – Trust your potential – by embracing the gift you have received, strengthen it and use it
    every day.
    – Use appreciative inquiry to acknowledge the progressive steps you make and recognize
    and appreciate yourself.
    – Express yourself – trust that what you think and feel is right.
    9. Get feedback from others to gain a realistic image of yourself.

    I am not into clichés and pocket philosophical advice, but believe me, these steps are worth exploring and incorporating as they help you gradually step out of your comfortzone, and away from the anxiety that holds you back. I have never had any problems allowing my vulnerability to show, and this fact actually makes me even more exposed to the imposter syndrom when I meet people who could “potentially” bring it forward, but my focus on overcoming the syndrom with those steps, has made me experience an entirely new and unknown vulnerability… and to express that. Hope this helps some… if just a little, I am as happy as can be.

    Luis

  35. I feel it all the time Emilie. I literally felt I’m suffering from a disorder. Even what I do helps people on a personal and professional level, I still undervalue myself at various times. Kinda doubting “can I really help someone”!

    I, a few month ago, thought about testing the coaching practice that I can help multipassionate entrepreneurs excel in whatever they do.I started putting it out there and met huge rejection that the idea isn’t workable and I should focus on one thing. Unfortunately, this is something I can’t do!

    I found you Emilie through a friend and I feel I found my home now and whatever I’m doing is what’s meant to be done without feeling guilty or worried.

    And why not put this idea out there again as a blog perhaps. Just thinking since I see it working through you :)

  36. Sometimes I use the “imposter syndrome” to my advantage. Years ago a friend talked me, and introvert, into selling Avon. (Don’t we all have moments of insanity?) Each day I’d drive around my territory, never ringing a doorbell. I’d go home and tell my husband that no one was home. Then I decided that I either needed to quit (and who does that?) or find a way to knock on that first door. So I pretended that I was a successful Avon lady. I fashioned my persona after my friend who was outgoing and successful. In that “role” I rang that first doorbell. I was never made a lot of money but what I learned was priceless to me. “Act the part” is advice I’ve given as a Life Coach. By trying it out, you can decide if it’s a good fit or you can move one to something else. I proved to myself that I could talk to strangers and find a connection. I might not be good at sales but I am good with people.
    Thanks for your bravery Emilie!

  37. Barely a day goes by without it…

  38. Kaye Sims says:

    I continue to appreciate your thoughts, Emilie, as well as your transparency. I used to be in a rather public role and have more recently “retired” into a much simpler lifestyle – actually living on the road. I am no longer a public figure except through my writing. During those more public years, I often experienced Imposter Syndrome – as in “Who does she think she is?” and “Who granted her ‘expert status’?” Looking back it sort of makes sense that I would have been susceptible to that self-doubt. Now that I am living a quieter life, intentionally less busy and intentionally less public, it wouldn’t seem to be a problem – EXCEPT that people now laud our adventure of leaving it all behind and seem amazed at how adventurous I am. And here I sit thinking I’m such a fraud – because I am so NOT a risk-taker. In fact I’m downright fearful and a real wimp. But hey. That’s okay.

  39. Imposter Syndrome for me and my new passion running: I have this site where i run in and then rate all of the hundreds of parks in Montreal. People want running advice all the time, I tell them what I know but it feels like i’m a running instructor imposter all the time. I debunk that by telling them the truth: “i’m not a professional, but…”. It gives sincerity, which many people admire and they might listen closely to your advice.

  40. B. Mello says:

    This is relieving to hear is real, especially from someone who does such wonderful work. (Not saying I’m glad you feel it, just glad to relate!)

    I struggle with imposter syndrome, and am constantly worried that I am failing at what I do or do not deserve the praise I receive. The idea that I’m successful, interesting or smart doesn’t seem possible to me, and the anxiety I get from doing new things comes mostly from the fear of failing, and showing that I’m not who everyone thinks I am!

    I know, through sheer facts, that at 17, being in college classes, starting up a business and sewing on a professional level is quite a feat. However, what you describe is exactly what I struggle with very often, feeling as if I’m just a normal person, and can’t live up to what people think I am. Through your website, a few books and one gloriously wonderful teacher I’m able to work through it though, being more content to treasure who I am than what others think of me.

    You’re awesome, and your posts are thoughtful and well made. Go Emilie!

    – B

  41. KC says:

    I’m so glad that I listened to your talk and am now connected to people like me. Sometimes I feel like an imposter. I look back on my life and think I could have done so much more and often wonder why my corporate jobs don’t last for more than a few years (especially in the last 10 years). But when I stop and think about what I have accomplished I don’t feel so bad. In my 60 years of life I’ve been married for 40 years, raised a son who is a wonderful person and is a successful lawyer (working at making the world a better place); have a daughter-in-law that wants to make the world a more beautiful place; have a spirited, fun and wicked smart 2 year old granddaughter. I’ve helped take care of ailing relatives and friends and watches two people I love go through Alzheimer’s. I taken some award-winning photos and am avid gardner and can swing a hammer better than most men. My husband, my son and I built a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath house (ok…we r still working on it) and renovated my childhood home. It’s always bugged me that I don’t have a degree and it is very difficult to compete for jobs when it seems like everyone else has a masters degree and that is the symbol of success. However, despite not having a degree I’ve managed to stay employed at well known companies for the last 35 years and often made more money than my friend who has a PhD. Lately I’m starting to wonder if God puts me in situations where someone needs me, and that is the bigger plan for me. Who knows…God may have connected me to this new community.

  42. Job says:

    Dear Emilie, where is this coming from all of a sudden? Either you’re an imposter or you’re not. You know the truth and whatever it is, life with it and go on.
    I think it’s a save bet though that you’re real, are who you are and authentic with all the flaws that come with it (and making it interesting btw). So I go for that and continue to letting me be inspired by your blogs, crazy thoughts and whatever life throws at you to deal with and you’re willing to share with us.

  43. racquel says:

    To me, one of the hardest parts about imposter syndrome is dealing with the anger/ insecurities/disbelief of other people when they learn that I have taken a shortcut or a nontraditional approach to achieve success. People don’t always admire success, especially if they think your success came too easily or too soon. The silent judgment and scrutiny directed my way are painful reminders that I am different (and I always will be).

    I’ve seen those emotions in others create some serious walls that block the possibility for us to connect. I know that for some people “interviewing” and data-mining are the only ways they know how to connect, but now I am beginning to have a emotional and sometimes physical “YUCK” response to the “interviewing” questions that people ask in order to size up exactly “what I am” and how I became what I am. I can almost see people’s heads exploding as I’m answering their questions and I feel(and watch) their walls going up. Bye-Bye potential friend, hello awkwardness. I’m hoping some of you multipotentialites out there have dealt with similar feelings/experiences. Any advice or suggestions for this glitch in the matrix?

  44. Rich Godwin says:

    Hi Emilie: I’m not as familiar with the imposter syndrome as I am with not recognizing precisely what my expertise or contribution level is to a situation or group. I have made the mistake in the past of thinking that someone is more capable than me in circumstances where the other person has a degree or advanced education in their particular discipline. The mistake is not recognizing how that other person is so buried in their own thin slice of say a company for example, and not seeing the bigger picture which seems so obvious to a multipotentialite.(MP)
    I would always be somewhat deferential to the person with the degree hung on the wall displaying their speciality and would inevitably end up paying a huge price for that deference.
    No More!
    We MP’s I believe see a much broader and lateral picture than the tunnel vision that is so common in people and possibly set in stone by their own educational biase.
    Once I realized this was the truth I stopped any thoughts of imposter syndrome or self destructive thinking. I’m not saying that I’m always right and I will always listen to other ways of thinking because after all, that’s what makes MP’s so capable. We can see the other options and as a result I believe we always have doors of opportunity opening to us.
    We have a talent that you so eloquently verbalized for us all.

  45. Edgar Cambaza says:

    Hi, Emilie
    You just don’t need to feel like that. You deserve every single bit of the the admiration people have for you. You’re doing a good job. If someobe dares to tell you don’t deserve the attention and respect you’re getting, I’ll be there to stand by you.
    Best wishes,
    Edy

  46. Christina says:

    I agree with everyone here so won’t belabor the details. I always try to figure out why that feeling is present. I think it is because we all share a curiosity for the world around us but also we never are through learning- so how can we be good enough at anything? Many never read another book after college. I will bet we all have several going at once. It’s the thirst for learning and the knowledge that there is always more to learn. I also think that because we have so many interests we have adapted to picking up the overall concepts of subjects that fascinate us and then get it, get bored and move on. But each concept seems to relate to another even in a wildly varied array of interests. My humble opinion in dealing with feeling like a hack fraud on a daily basis. You are a wonderful inspiration and have obviously struck a nerve with so many-rock on! And to everyone here, rock on as well. If the impostor is every present, invite it in, and tell it to go sit in the corner, keep it’s mouth shut as it has a very skewed view of ‘good enough.’

  47. Linda says:

    Emilie I don’t know about imposter syndrome.. I think you are only an “imposter” if you are trying to be something or someone that you are not.

    Who better to bring this long overdue message to the world than you who embodies multipotentiality and celebrates BEING YOURSELF!!??

    Because of your awesome TED talk, Multipotentialites around the world, many of whom didn’t even realise that was our thing can now stop making ourselves wrong, stop trying to fit in to everyone else’s definition of what’s right and start embracing ALL of our wonderful capacities the good, the bad and the ugly AND celebrating our uniqueness and richness of life.
    Congratulations on c. 1 million views. Time to celebrate!!!

  48. Pierre says:

    I keep putting off writing you…but this post sent a big cold shiver down my spine! I believe that I should be the imposter syndrome poster child! It’s always present to some degree, and usually begins peaking to panic levels when it is suggested that I may be nearing a promotion or should apply for some higher position. Result? Lowered performance, lessened care for the job, justification of how much and why the job sucks therefore I should quit…and then..goodbye!! And now I will just hit ‘submit’ because I have begun re-reading and editing my comment and if I continue I will delete the whole thing.
    Thank you Emilie, feels pretty cool to know I have a weird little ‘family’ out there all over the place!

  49. Bonne says:

    If I’ve been Multipotentialite all my life, I’ve also had fear of success: what would happen if ‘they’ found out, anxiety, fear, what used to be called “Cinderella syndrome.” My greatest joy has always been research, learning. My greatest fear: that the product would not be perfect. So I’d be paralyzed. When I finally “publicly” failed it was almost a relief:now ‘they’ know. And it goes on, with each new endeavor…i’m trying with spirituality, different thinking, to get out of the cycle. This tribe may just be the support I need… Thank you, all!

  50. racquel says:

    First, I just want to say: YAY EMILIE!! and THANK YOU for ALL that you do!!!

    To me, one of the hardest parts about imposter syndrome is dealing with the anger/ insecurities/disbelief of other people when they learn that I have taken a shortcut or a nontraditional approach to achieve success. People don’t always admire success, especially if they think your success came too easily or too soon. The silent judgment and scrutiny directed my way are painful reminders that I am different (and I always will be).

    I’ve seen those emotions in others create some serious walls that block the possibility for us to connect. I know that for some people “interviewing” and data-mining are the only ways they know how to connect, but now I am beginning to have a emotional and sometimes physical “YUCK” response to the “interviewing” questions that people ask in order to size up exactly “what I am” and how I became what I am. I can almost see people’s heads exploding as I’m answering their questions and I feel(and watch) their walls going up. Bye-Bye potential friend, hello awkwardness. I’m hoping some of you multipotentialites out there have dealt with similar feelings/experiences. Any advice or suggestions for this glitch in the matrix?

  51. Emily says:

    Dear Emilie,

    Before you “became a legend” (by the definition of over a certain number of TED talk views), I knew you were one and announced you as one! We met several months ago at a small coffee shop in Portland at a meetup for Multipotentialites. There were just four people present including yourself. It was here in this small meeting that I was able to hear myself talk about “my problem” and upon later reflection, understood it as a blessing.

    I struggle with anxiety myself and find that sometimes it can be helpful to look back at the journey in peaceful reflection to understand that, yes… this is where we are meant to BE right now.

    WIth gratitude and love,

    Emily

  52. Che says:

    Everbody gets some degree of imposter syndrome when entering a new field of work. In time, with experience and knowledge gained, it goes away… but the problem with being a multipod is that we usually move on to something new before we reach that point.
    I just try to remind myself that everybody feels this way sometimes. That we’re all just ‘faking it’. And that as multipods with plenty of newbie experience, we’re probably ‘faking it’ better. Haha

  53. Stella says:

    I experienced imposter syndrome with my GCSE results this summer. I got 10 A*, the highest in my school, but I didn’t really take much time to be proud of it. I knew I’d done well all round but I didn’t want to make others feel bad about their results.

    Now I’m doing A levels and consistently getting As but I still feel like it’s a fluke and I will have to work even harder to achieve a ‘real’ A. Although it gives me a challenge to match up with my GCSEs!

    • Aseda says:

      Stella, mega congratulations on your fabulous results. I won’t go on about your being brilliant, or a genius, or deserving it [because I really don’t know you, although that is what your results imply! ;) ]- just think what a beautiful transcript 10 A*s makes! Admire it! And don’t stress about what A’Level results you will get, but do try and make sure you enjoy the experience of getting them. All the best and congrats again. Your family, at least, must be over the moon! :)

  54. Calluna says:

    Here is what helps ME tremendously. It’s a two-parter.

    Part one: there are two types of experts. One, the type who aspires to be and self-proclaims to be an expert. This is usually not me. Two, the type that peers and others identify as an expert. The second is one that I have no control over. If I am good at something, and someone else decides I’m an expert, the decision was not up to me. It was up to them. I’m apparently (and surprisingly) now an expert. Because Part Two.

    Part Two, an expert compared to what? It’s all relative. If others decide you are an expert, it doesn’t mean you’re at the top of your game, at the top of the field, that there’s no one out there better than you, or that you have no room to improve. ***It means that you know more about the subject than the people who see you as an expert do.*** It’s only misleading or imposter-y if you lie about something (falsifying resumes or data, for example). One of my former bosses used to remind me: “Remember, you are the expert because you are the one who did the work on it!” It was a good tip.

    I would hazard a guess that multipods are generally quick to call ourselves proficient and slow to call ourselves experts. At least that’s the way I am. The recognition we get as experts that comes from others is both earned and relative to their own knowledge and experience. So. I just put it all in context, and usually feel ok about it.

    • Maryske says:

      I really like this examination of “what is an expert” – I feel exactly the same: proficient at lots of things, but an expert…?? I can’t think of anything right now in which I would call myself an expert, but I’m sure some people regard me as such nonetheless.
      Or skills that are so basic to me that I don’t consider them anything special, yet others keep showering me with praise for them… and I don’t really feel like I deserve it because what the heck, it’s not all that darned difficult, so what’s all the fuss about?

      As for the impostor syndrome… I often feel it during job interviews. I’m trying to sell myself as a perfect teacher (or what I think they would consider a perfect teacher) without really lying, but it’s a role with which I have never identified. And there is almost always a point in the interview where I feel like I’m trying to sell myself as something I’m not, even though I’m a well-qualified and experienced teacher. I’ve always wondered if this was the main reason why I’ve had so many job interviews that did not lead to being offered the job.
      Similarly with trying to explain away why I’ve never managed to stay in one job for more than a year. There are perfectly logical and practical reasons for each of those changes, but I *like* the change of workplace and country. Still, once I became aware that these continuous changes were regarded (only by some, I suppose) as me having commitment problems, I’ve been trying to cover it up by saying that I’m looking for a place to settle down. When in truth I’m not really interested in that at all. I love moving around :-)

      Doing the job is likewise: it feels much like I’m winging it, instead of being based on sturdy knowledge and experience. All those specialists around me seem to be so more knowledgeable… but on the other hand, they also often have a very one-track mind…

      • Calluna says:

        I had the same problem with interviews. Even though I could explain every job transition and had no periods of unemployment, I reached a point where I could not even get a job at a temp agency. The next time I got hired, I MADE myself stay there for three years and explore the variations inside the job because it is scary when even a temp agency can’t trust you!

        It is true that I always planned to leave my jobs, and timed my getaways so that it was easy to explain (such as, end of a school year, change of semester, gaining of a new certification, marriage, etc). I guess after so many well-explained transitions they still realize we just like change…

  55. Hi Emilie,
    I read your email this morning about, “A bad case of imposter syndrome…” and I pray you continue to simply move beyond that urge or feelings of anxiety. Emilie, what you have done is reveal yourself and encouraged an amazing amount of people to reflect on their own identity and to do likewise.
    I know that is what it did for me. In your candor I was encouraged, I was uplifted, I was strengthened and I am comforted in hearing your continued words of like candor and positive reinforcement. I look forward to many more of your writings and uplifting words.

    Take care

    Tomas

  56. Susan says:

    Emilie…I just LOVE how you put it all out there, fearfully and fearlessly at the same time. We no longer have to live in the shadows because of your courage and willingness to share. Decades of multipotentialism and navigating socio-economic constructs that have no clue what to do with me now transition to embrace of who I am…and that overarching thread/theme. I’ve always felt (and said, though few got it until now) that my many interests and life directions were part of a package . Now I have better ways to articulate and help others understand. Impostor syndrome is an interesting label (know it well) and is really an illusion, especially as we move toward self-actualization and self-love!

  57. Anneri says:

    There is enough fakeness in the world, what we need is more REAL, more authentic and more people like you. Admitting that life is tough and exciting at the same time. I like meeting the real person behind the success. You go girl!

  58. JaChel says:

    Emilie,

    I completely understand where you’re coming from and I’ve felt it numerous times. Like you’re doing right now, the hardest part is just pushing pass it. You opened my eyes to something so extraordinary. And I’m pretty sure that last week, you changed my life for the better by simply sharing your words. I have a new outlook and it’s taken a load a pressure off. So yes, you’ve been ‘found out’. I’ve found out that there’s another person on the planet who knows what I’ve been feeling for all these years and that person has introduced me to a community that supports me. Many thanks to you! Keep up the awesome work!

  59. David Bryson says:

    Hi Emilie

    It was interesting to see your blog post about “Imposter syndrome” it goes along with “I can’t be an expert can I” and is actually the flip side of something called the Dunning-
    Kruger Effect. Yes, it really exists and there are papers out there that discuss this serious issue! It is named after the authors of a paper “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.“

    The opposite which I think multipotentialites are likely to suffer from are issues of confidence. This is also the issue around self-regard and there are also cultural differences in the area between Asia and America for example.

    As part of a series of Continuing Professional Development guides published in the Journal of Visual Communication I wrote one about this area, “The Developing Professional” if anyone is interested probably best accessed via https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269284826_The_developing_professional rather than the journal itself. It also covered important aspects looked at by Candy in Boud’s book on reflection how when you start to think more deeply through reflection you can end up doubting your own abilities.

    So rather than seeing an improvement, there can be a fall in performance. As Candy stated (See paper for details) “When people first set out to improve their performance through reflective learning, they notice a distinct drop-off in performance once their habitual level of skill is disrupted. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as ‘ conscious incompetence ’.

    The danger comes where rather than re-gaining confidence our confidence is often undermined by others (Grrr) or we doubt ourselves even more. This is where peer support and mentoring can be vital to help us realise we are good and getting better at what we do. Though warm hugs all round also works but not possible on the internet (Yet).

    Isolation doesn’t help and even those of us who ‘allegedly’ work in teams often actually work on our own and this can lead to self-doubt. The area of teaching I am involved in is just such a case you have the larger team but you are alone with 30-120 students in the classroom or practical laboratory. Thankfully this week I feel great as we had a programme committee with loads of student representatives and I got loads of warm verbal hugs all round from our 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students.

    One last thing that can be useful is the positive use of reflection. There is an aspect to reflection that appears negative, in that it seems to encourage self-criticism, even negativity. However, it is important to reflect equally on what goes well. Any reflection on practice should accentuate the positive as much as the things we need to improve.

    So if you can think back to something that went really well like your Ted talk and think back on how positively that went and then reflect on that positive glow it gave you that alone should beat of the “I feel like an imposter fears”.

    Best wishes to all

    David

    • Kate says:

      Hi David, I’m interested to read your paper, however, having trouble accessing it using the link you have provided. Researchgate seems to require an institutional email address in order to join which I don’t have. Is there any other way I can access it? Thanks.

  60. Donna says:

    Hello Emilie,

    I saw your Ted Talk last week and I was like– WOW! That’s me, too! –You have such great insight! What a wonderful thing to share your truth with the world!!
    I am going through a transitional period right now and I am figuring out my next purpose. It’s becoming more and more clear to me that what I really want to do is share my truth and uplift people!! (and honestly, it is my recognition of my twinge of jealousy that wakes me up and says–yes, that is what I want to do!!)
    Being vulnerable and completely authentic is what makes you REAL! An imposter is someone who is fake, someone who is pretending. You are the complete opposite of that!! You are being honestly and unapologetically YOU! And that’s what we all long for, I believe.
    Paradoxically, we are extraordinary and at the same time ordinary.
    If I have any words of wisdom for you, it’s to not try to fight the “imposter” feeling, but to go to it and say–I am here for you–and imagine you are giving it a big hug! (idea from Thich Nhat Hanh”s book “True Love”)

    Thank you for being YOU and sharing YOU!! You are an inspiration!!

    P.S. If you have time, please check out my blog! It’s a journey of truth-telling.

  61. Michael Hurley says:

    I saw your Ted talk and suddenly a switch went off in my head, followed by the. . .YES! But back to your question. Have I ever had a bad case of the “imposter syndrome”? All the time along with the; “I’m not worthy, I’m not worth.” Growing up I was one of those kids in school that was interested in things other kids weren’t interested in. History, poetry, the arts, it also didn’t help that I didn’t really learn to read and write until I was in my late teens early twenties. Never really focused on one thing but found to many things that interested me. As a result I was bullied all through public school and high school. All my life I’ve felt like I’ve bounced around from interest to interest looking for that one thing that would be my Ah moment. Your Ted talk finally put a name to what I was and finally that Ah moment came. Thank you, I just wish it had come sooner in my life. However we deal with what we deal with and go from there. Find new and interesting mountains to climb.

  62. James says:

    I understand the imposter syndrome completely. I attribute it to the understanding that the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.

    Quite frankly, most of us that follow you know a lot. And we learn quickly. And since we learn quickly, we may not value the knowledge we have as much as others that have to struggle just to understand even the basics on a topic. This, we must overcome. It is important to recognize our value.

    But then we get bored once we have reached a critical mass of understanding on a topic. I think this is because the intrinsic value of learning more on one topic isn’t as high as learning something completely new. We know there is so much more to learn in so many other areas. So we switch focus.

    We are skill hungry.

    I’ve never put these ideas into words. Thanks for giving me a reason to do so.

    James

  63. arvind gopal kulkarni says:

    the imposter syndrome exists but it is an effect of our living in a world where only one thing is accepted for a life! this assumption is wrong..i do not think we should be bothered about what people think… in a company of sheep you will always feel sheepish…and it takes quite an effort within to say no to this feeling…
    one reason why this happens is that we are kind od ‘born followers’ and not ‘born leaders’..we find it difficult to leave the flock of sheep…. the ugly duckling poem of my school days is always in my mind…
    if one is a multipotentialite (shorten it to m.p.), one needs to drive in the hard message of the UGLY DUCKLING poem..why not believe that WE ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH…? we need NOT be apologetic or ashamed of it…
    A lion in the jungle is the king of jungle only by self- appointment, not by any election or consensus among all animals..swayameva mrugendratha.. is the sanskrit phrase for it….

  64. Josh Taylor says:

    I’ve thought about this a lot too. I want to start an online hiking store, but don’t feel like an expert, since I haven’t done as much as some and don’t know gear much.

    Multipotentialites need to use what they have to their advantage. They’re generally creative so they need to use that. For instance I love photography, but am nowhere near as good as the great professional night landscape photographers. But I can still be creative with it. Use different angles, subjects, etc. to make a statement different than the others.

    People starting businesses need to stand out in some way. Multipotentialites are already different, you can’t change it, or pretend you’re something you’re not, so might as well embrace it, right?

  65. Charlie says:

    Where to start…

    I discovered the TED talk a couple of weeks a go and it most certainly was a breath of fresh air – I felt a little less peculiar, a little lighter and a little more identified: I have an identity IN being someone who doesn’t have a clear cut role. Yes, more than anything it felt good to be able to attach myself to an identity – I felt, and continue to feel a little less lost.

    Having said that!…I’m at a crossroads right now. First I’m blessed/perpetually torn, as many multipods are, between many different interests. I surf and feel the need to be outside a lot of the time, I paint, I like to read, I design jewellery, I’m trying to teach myself graphic design, I am a qualified yoga teacher and am attempting to maintain a devoted practice so I can advance my level and knowledge – I’ve also been travelling for the past 2.5 years – this more than anything has been my ‘agenda’ during this time. I teach yoga and English (also a qualified English teacher) to fund my travels. Lastly I’ve also just started writing and am attempting, with inadequate experience, to launch a blog on travelling with diabetes as I am a type 1 diabetic.

    Sometimes my urge to adequately satisfy and dedicate time to each of these things leaves me paralysed. I waste time trying to decide which one(s) I’m going to work on today, how to manage my day most efficiently, and almost always I’m left with a sense of guilt due to feeling underachieved or for neglecting whatever I didn’t attend to that day.

    Altogether, this perpetuates this idea your talking about, of feeling like a ‘fraud’. I feel I’m only scratching the surface of each – if people new my heart was split in 13 different ways, it would be easy to accuse me of not being ‘serious’ or ‘commited’ – I tell myself that a lot – and I guess a lot of the time I never feel truly achieved or able to claim my capabilities in any of these hobbies or professions.

    I’m trying to make a decision right now re. going back to school in order to get some more specialized and practical experience (now I feel teaching English isn’t my passion). Also, so I can knuckle down and really focus on one project/area. BUT, the process of deciding is killing me. On a daily basis I go from landscape design, to psychology, to marketing, to carpentry, to biology, to law and back again. Because I don’t have that clear cut passion, I 1) Don’t have an obvious pull or gut feeling in one direction and 2) I would continue to feel like a ‘fraud’ in whichever field I choose. Plus, how do I stop myself from thinking about the other things I should/could be doing?

    I think fear governs a lot of this, but I feel you’re right: at the crux of it, is this problem of feeling insincere. How to cultivate sincerity when your interests and passions are fractured? The multipotentialite dilemma.

  66. Linda says:

    I suspect many multipods are overachievers as well, and so feeling like an imposter comes with the territory!

  67. Jackie says:

    I wish you had a vote up (only) on this page to let everyone know how well their comments were received by those of us who couldn’t have said it better.

  68. Susan says:

    My therapist is also a multipod. His wise words to me just six days ago: “You control your mind, your mind does not control you.” Whenever the doubts start twirling, I remember I can make the choice to not react or buy into the doubts. It’s as simple as making the choice. He gets me and I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have found him.

  69. jo says:

    Hey Emilie

    Yours is the second message I have received TODAY about The Imposter/Faker/Fraudster Critter, and I am So thankFULL. I needed to hear them. Both messages/posts have come from women I admire and inspire…thats you. Until I found you and your wise words about Multipotenialite folks like me, I was deep in my own quicksand of uncertainty and self doubt….I was weird, didn’t fit the usual box.

    YES I know about the fraudster, she is a part of me. She landed with all her bags on my door step yesterday, telling me to wake up to myself, who am I to ‘offer’ anything new or different….I’ll get found out!

    This time I welcomed her in with all her bags, made a cup of tea for us and asked her what she was scared of. After all, the Fraudster feeds on my own inner fears and insecurities. I won’t go into the inner dialogue but I offer you this. When I welcomed her she calmed down. I listened to what she had to say and made a few notes and offered her my ‘caution’ as I progress through yet ANOTHER business that I am about to launch. She is like an over protective mother who hasn’t cut the apron strings….so I have to.

    Its super scary a LOT of the time for me. Very rarely do I ride the wave of success all the way into the beach. Im more like “wow a dolphin- I’m off”. This time I want to succeed. My Fraudster can come with, as long as she know the rules.

    Emilie you have changed my perception of myself…something a Masters in psychotherapy could only chip away at. Your insights are pure gold. Your honesty is edible and scrumptious….Thank you :)

  70. Drew says:

    I just want to say thanks. Ever since before I went to college, I felt scared and conflicted when I thought about the future. But upon seeing your Ted talk and discovering your site, I have discovered that I am not broken. I have found a community who I feel truly understand me. Now I feel liberated. So, keep up the good work!

  71. geoff says:

    I am bouyed up being a multipod! years have gone by drifting, fitting in skillsets, that I discarded once I understood it. Yes, feeling imperfect in the face of the single ability/career people; imposter syndrome may the start of a nice label, agree Beth now I can step back and work it out. And, James, now I can be 2nd in the 5km or no 1 in the tai chi I teach. No 2 in the hydroxy technology I innovate.
    We deserve enrollment in this tribe…and others.
    Thanks Emilie!

  72. Elke Rindfleisch says:

    So great to have the name for “impostor syndrome” now… when the voices hit the next time I can smile and think of this community! Thank you.

  73. Kim Forman says:

    Thank you, Emilie, for putting yourself out there. I have struggled for my entire life with being told “you have so much potential! You just need to pick one thing and FOCUS!”

    Your TED talk was transformative. Oh, hell no! I DON’T need to focus on one thing forever. (The stuff of nightmares!)

    Thank you for driving home to me that there is nothing wrong with me for having interests all over the map.

    And oh, boy! The imposter syndrome. I know that one well. My current occupation is massage therapy, and I’m good at it. I know I’m good at it. And yet I often feel like I don’t know enough and that everyone knows it.

    It’s ridiculous how we convince ourselves that if we keep going we will eventually be “outed”. Said there is a anti-potentialite posse out there collecting evidence against us, just waiting until the right moment to pounce.

    I’m a new blogger, and I question the value of what I have to say, in spite of all evidence that belies that notion (like how often people gasp when I share something g personal and say…”Oh, my God! Me, too! Thank you!”)

    As for any future blog posts that may bomb, I’m going to tell both of us that some things you share are for others. And some things your share for yourself. Sometimes you can’t get to the stuff that someone else needs until you wade through the boring stuff that’s in your way. Can we make a deal to let those posts be what they need to be, until we get to what they can be?

    You rock my socks. <3

  74. Bettina says:

    Emilie,

    Your TED talk and subsequently Puttylike opened a whole new can of (delicious!) worms for me. I’m wrestling with all this new information about myself, and I’m growing immensely because of this struggle to understand what makes me tick on a whole new level.

    You have obviously similarly struck a chord with numerous others. Nobody, or very few other people, may have explored this subject like you do, and this novelty may make the impostor syndrome worse, but just because it’s a different idea or a new approach doesn’t mean it’s not valid!!! The value is in all the growth and opportunity you provide people; it’s in making people think outside the box; it’s in being a thought leader and a mover and shaker of existing paradigms. You may not turn out to be right about everything (never happens anyway, so not to worry), but you will have been right about some things, and people like me will move forward thanks to you.

  75. In Wikipedia they give the following definition: “Impostor syndrome (also spelled impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in the 1970s by psychologists and researchers to informally describe people who are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women,although some studies indicate that both genders may be affected in equal numbers”.

    Mine comment: Success can be overwhelming and also be unexpected. I’m not sure that people always are rated, because they have exceptional skills. I don’t thing that is always the case. People have sometimes or instead maybe many times the luck that they happen to do the things or says the things what other people wanted to hear, at that given moment. There is nothing ‘impostor’ about that. You have also people whom at the hit of the moment are not recognized by their talent or the strive they have. Everything bolls down to economics. We live in a supply and demand world-society. If you happened to be selling a product or services that people wants at that moment, than you may became rich, but if not you will became/ remain poor. This doesn’t means that quality of the product or services you sell is bad. This doesn’t means that the product or services you are selling has any quality atoll. Its says nothing about the quality of your skills. It does only means that people are looking for something else, what you at that moment aren’t selling, which your services. Thus ‘impostor syndrome’ is directly a consequence, you may say the effects of how our capitalistic system works for mostly of us. Emilie, don’t take it personal. It is just how the economics system works for us or in other cases, it doesn’t work for us. It is the system! There is well one thing. They are people who knows how the system works and there is people who don’t. These are the two extreme groups of people, but in between of these two there is more possible than we ever will know in life. Emilie, feel good about yourself that is the most important!

  76. Kimberly says:

    Emilie, I’ve been following your site off and on for a while now & I can totally relate to this post. I have often felt like an imposter, feeling not good enough at anything to actually pursue it. I watched your TED talk today (finally!) & it finally hit me. While I had related to the multipotentialite group, I still felt I didn’t belong there, that it wasn’t me, that I still had to find that “one” thing I was meant to do and pursue that as a life and business. I realized through your TED talk that I was still living the culture of figuring out what I was going to be when I grew up – feeling like a failure somehow for not landing on that one thing…like something was wrong with me. I bought and sold myself those beliefs a long time ago and your talk has LIBERATED me into realizing I don’t fit into one box. I never did & that doesn’t make me flaky or unsettled but rather it is who I am. It wasn’t until your talk that I realized I was still clinging to the old beliefs that I had to be one thing & not many things. I love learning about A LOT of different things. I don’t have “one” thing I’m into but many varied interests. Thank you for giving me (all of us) permission to explore that -for opening the door to let us know we are not normal, and not alone, and that it’s not just okay but it’s really amazing!!!

  77. Luis says:

    Great post emilie!

    Allow me to add a bit to this topic (and forgive me my english, I am european).

    The bad news… the impostor syndrom is a feeling of shame / ashamed (caused by clustering feelings and event in the past). Emotions are not problems that can be solved, but create conditions that can potentially cause problems. There are no fixes to emotions, and you
    can´t grow completely out of it, or even force yourself to not be exposed to it. It resides within you. There are two good news… the first is that there are ways to deal with impostor so that it cause less problems and frustration in your life. This will require self-development and therapy. Secondly, discovering your own best-practice to dealing with imposter, can be turned into an advantage. A danish poet (Soren Ulrik Thomsen) said…”I have lived for 35 years, and need as many to get over the first”.

    When you, focused and determined, work with your own personal development from the perspective of impostor, you will within months gain a self-awareness that allows you to accept yourself, let go of the past and most importantly you will find and use ressources to move forward and jump into things in life, and become capable of finding and using ressources that you normally wouldn´t develop or use without impostor. It stretches your potential further and empowers you to use your resourcefulness in alternative new ways.

    Impostor is a product of your indentity, being your personality, your intelligence and your experience combined. Research (Dunning and Krugers) shows that highly intelligent people have a realistic perception of their own performance and potential, but compared to a les intelligent person, they have tendency to underestimate themeselves, and overestimate others… ”when it’s so easy for me, it must be easier for everyone else, or I must have been cheating”. Every time we do things better than others (understanding, arguing, analyzing etc), how does it feel to be set straight by someone (regardless of age) who feels and acts as if they know better than us ?? Either you fight against it, or you become insecure and wonder whether they are right. I have done both. Other research reveals a connection between imposter and family connections. Poor or no support between family members. Poor or no openness in regards to emotions. High degree of anger and conflicts in the family.

    Having worked with myself on this topic for two years now, I can definitely confirm that there is hope if you are willing to work hard and over time. There are lots of things you can do to minimize its degree of interfearance in your life, learn to overcome it in most situations, and even take advantage of it. Here are some of them…

    – Identify it the phenomenon depth
    – Describe in detail how your particular version of the syndrom express itself.
    – Let go of the past – feel, understand and accept how it impact on you and and more
    importantly understand what it has protected you against.
    – Visualize – allow the facemask of the imposter syndrom to fall by gradually stepping into
    the light.
    – Rewire yourself – turn and twist all the negative thoughts to something positive and say it
    out loud to yourself.
    – Trust your potential – by embracing the gift you have received, strengthen it and use it
    every day.
    – Use appreciative inquiry to acknowledge the progressive steps you make and recognize
    and appreciate yourself.
    – Express yourself – trust that what you think and feel is right.
    – Get feedback from others to gain a realistic image of yourself.

    I am not into clichés and pocket philosophical advice, but believe me, these steps are worth exploring and incorporating as they help you gradually step out of your comfortzone, and away from the anxiety that holds you back. I have never had any problems allowing my vulnerability to show, and this fact actually makes me even more exposed to the imposter syndrom when I meet people who could “potentially” bring it forward, but my focus on overcoming the syndrom with those steps, has made me experience an entirely new and unknown vulnerability… and to express that. Hope this helps some… if just a little, I am as happy as can be.

    Take care everyone!

    Luis

  78. Shane says:

    For sure. I feel it constantly. I am in my last semester of Electrical Engineering and Physics and I’m someone who meditates, writes, researches diet info, and works on social skills in my free time. I can’t connect with those who just want to talk about the newest video games because I feel like if I started playing them, I would have to give up all of my life goals.

    However, when it comes to writing, I don’t feel like an imposter. I am a sponge for knowledge from great ppl like you, Emilie. I don’t have to trust myself nor my own knowledge because I can trust those I am learning from (with some fact checking and proof, of course).

  79. Liz Ness says:

    When I became an engineer, I felt like an impostor. When I became an artist, I felt like an impostor. So, I spent a long time reflecting on why this is.

    I think it’s the thing we feel instead of feeling afraid to begin something new. As recognition grows and we have a metamorphosis from dabbler to expert, the doubt we feel can be too much. But, I think, it’s not so much from the recognition (though as an introvert, I agree that recognition can be hard) as it is from the need to change our own mindsets about ourselves. We’re so used to seeing ourselves–identifying ourselves–as beginners (and, personally, I love to live in that space) it can be a struggle to realize that we are quite proficient when we are proficient. Oddly, letting go of our own belief about ourselves can be far more frightening to us than starting something new.

    At least, that’s what I’ve come to believe. But, your story may be different (that’s how we role, right?). And, that’s totally cool.

    In the end, my story is just an “outreach” to let you know you’re not alone in feeling this way. I’m right there with you–and, I suspect there are a lot of others in this space, too.

    Thanks for your honesty and for sharing. And, hugs for the meanwhile, while you make your way through this. =)

  80. Margaux says:

    Coincidentally, I was just at a photo conference the past two days and Imposter Syndrome came up repeatedly.

    This is not just a problem for multi-pods. People who only focus on one specific thing and make a lot of money at it for years and years still feel this.

    Part of it boils down to not being able to accept appreciation and positive feedback for what it is.

    Part of it is that some of us, for whatever reasons, have adopted very very high standards, possibly impossible standards. Yet, even if 10,000 hours later, we manage to create a result that meets that initial high standard, by that time, the standard has already shifted and changed to something even further off, so after 10,000 hours of mastery, we still feel like an imposter because there’s still something else left to achieve.

    I guess it’s a matter of two things:

    1. Take praise as the gift it is. Don’t dismiss it, especially to the giver. I’m assuming eventually, after accepting praise graciously enough times, your brain may turn the corner and start accepting it internally, too. I assume. This has not yet happened for me, either.

    2. Realise that everyone feels they’re winging it — all the time. The struggle is to stop wishing for this fantasy idea of whatever “success” looks like to you and start accepting that you’re incredibly resilient, resourceful, and most of all CAPABLE. Because thinking of yourself as being CAPABLE makes the impossible very possible. It also assumes you’re always learning something and that you’ll always be able to learn it.

    3. Celebrate each result on the road of discovery for what has improved since the previous result. The cycle that should help alleviate imposter syndrome is:

    A. When starting a project and focus on no more than 3 things you want to improve. Perhaps no more than 3 things that would make the biggest difference right now.
    B. Really work hard during the project to make the improvements you want.
    C. After the project, accept praise for the result. Celebrate the improvements you’ve made.
    …rest. Then go back to A.

    Perhaps by not trying to expect every project to be 100% awesome when you know you still have a lot to learn you’ll start to realise that you’re *capable* and that’s much better than being a *master*.

  81. Pamela Williams says:

    I think Imposter Syndrome comes out of a rigid, judgemenal culture. The illusion that our culture perpetuates about “towing the line”, takes the experimenting life off the table every time. I tell people I was born with a butterfly nature and that I need a new color, fragrance, new story, etc frequently… And that the world must need me to be this way because I’m this way. Children who come into my studio ask me, ” How did you learn all these different things?!?!” or “how is it possible to know so many things?” And I say I feel trapped in jail if I only get to stay with one thing. The goal is to remain enthused about life itself… One day all of us leave it all behind anyway… Each of us must choose for ourselves one now at a time. So at 60, I can tell you, there is a point when you just aren’t willing to feed the monster with your self doubt anymore. Like you have done here, you get scared, you expose it to the light of day, you notice usually someone resonates and watch it all turn to dust.??

  82. James says:

    Many of us have referred multipotentialism to careers and interests. In the last few comments it related to career turnovers.

    I used to switch careers every five years. Currently Im employed by the same employer for 13 years. But it’s not the job itself that makes me stay. – I’m bored!

    If we get bored of careers, interests, and hobbies. Is it possible we get bored of friendships, relationships, and even marriage?

    They see us as a changed person. We see them as not having enough hobbies. So is that a condition of Imposter Syndrome? – we or they are not good enough?

    Does anyone feel the same way?

  83. Valérie says:

    I am an Imposter! But not quite like the guy who inspired ”Catch me if you can”

    Actually I am a Kaleidoscope (read the following based on an actual story which took place 20 years ago).

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-am-multipotentialite-valerie-pinard-jain?trk=prof-post

    You’ve inspired me.

  84. Manu Achucarro says:

    Hi Emilie,

    First, sorry if someone else already wrote in the previous comments what I want to write you here. You awake such an enthusiasm with your posts that it is just impossible for me to read all the comments before writing! So I guess it will be hard for you as well.

    What I really want to tell you, sincerely, is don’t get overwhelmed or scared. People tell you that you are a legend because of how you have driven your life before the TED talk, because of how humble have you been when trying to understand yourself, because of the courage you had to put in all the decisions which took your professional life here despite what you were supposed to become. And all of this had great value for you, but for all of us gained value when we saw pieces of our stories into yours and we saw in your path an example to guide us. So you simply can’t be an imposter because this is all about your story which, even if it wasn’t based on true facts, it still guides us and helps us realise who we are.

    At the end of the day what matters is that you don’t loose yourself. Your story has become perhaps bigger than you, but don’t let that consume you. Even I would suggest you to try to use this momentum and build a broader more (inter)active community so your story of the multipotentiality soul and the new renaissance people may grow as much as it needs but with many shoulders under it, not just yours to carry its weight.

    Thanks a lot once more for opening my eyes and I hope my words may be at least slightly as helpful for you as your story has been for me.

    Cheers!

    Manu

  85. David Bryson says:

    Dear all

    I didn’t realise ResearchGate not open to all. Paper about The Developing Professional is also available from University of Derby Open Access Repository from http://derby.openrepository.com/derby/handle/10545/550636

    Printed version not open access so this is a pre-print version.

    Best wishes

    David

  86. Sarah W says:

    Hi Emilie

    You have given a label to what I often feel as a multipod – that I am a jack of all trades and master of none. Worse than this, because I have knowledge about a myriad different things, I feel as though I’m one of those for whom a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and that the professional (specialist) colleagues with whom I work see me as such.

    I’ve been working recently on being kinder to myself, particularly since I came across your TED talk and realised, joyfully, that I’m not the only one who questions “who the F*** am I”. I’ve realised that the way others choose to judge me is their stuff, therefore the way they choose to judge you is their’s too. The way I see it is that, providing what you are doing/saying/sharing comes from your heart (which it does, clearly), then who is anyone, including yourself, to tell you that you are an imposter. What comes from the heart is pure.

    Somehow, and probably from completing your Renaissance Business course, I will figure out how to fulfil my potential and after 30 years of searching, I’m sure I wouldn’t be this far on without your input. Thank you for being so honest and sharing your vulnerability with us. It inspires me.

    Sarah

  87. Doug says:

    Emilie,

    I don’t think you’re complaining about success. And I won’t offer praise and reassurance.

    However, it is a true statement that I’ve commented on more blog posts on this site in the last three weeks than I have on any web site I’ve ever read. Which speaks to how close to the bullseye this topic has hit for my personality.

    Your story reminds me of something I’ve noticed about myself this past year. I want to be noticed for my talents or accomplishments by friends and peers. I imagine it will make me feel accepted, included and valued. But as soon as I receive that recognition or praise, I instead feel isolated and disconnected. I feel people are putting me on a pedestal above others in a way that makes me feel disconnected from whatever social group, rather than included in it. It’s a strange reaction, I know.

    Anyway, thanks and keep up the work. (“Good” is implied. No compliments, as requested!)

  88. Anna says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Congratulations on getting featured on Ted.com, your message is clearly one that a lot of people can relate to.

    Imposter syndrome, feeling like a fraud, or simply doubting whether you’re good enough, is even more likely when you’re working in lots of different areas like a multipotentialite does. Back at school, I wanted to do all the sports, tennis, netball, hockey, track and field, not to mention singing, acting, playing various musical instruments etc, and as a result I never felt “really good” at any of those things. Of course there was always someone better, since someone was focused only on that one activity. They achieved Grade 8 level in piano, they played junior tennis at a professional level, they got the lead roles in the musicals.

    Today, I’m creating a working life in which I have three different pillars and although I do think they fit together in a coherent whole it means I’m not a specialist in one area, one field, one niche, and there are always going to be other people who are. I also want to write, to run, to do yoga and stand-up paddle boarding, and a long list of other things. I won’t be the best at each activity that I do, and that’s okay.

    Being vulnerable, as you say, moving beyond the unrealistic expectation of perfection, and continuing to learn – that seems like a pretty good way forward to me!

  89. Larr says:

    It’s definitely the outside influences at work when we as multipotentialites question ourselves and journeys. For the most part, from my perspective, I can tell you this path while becoming more comfortable as time passes,is still faced with a culture that doesn’t necessarily respect it or lend itself to it.

    I can usually shrug it off but sometimes it takes more effort.

    Earlier today, for example, I was watching a show on Bravo called Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. The show follows around several real estate agents who are representing clients buying and selling million dollar plus properties. What I found interesting is that this is all they do and the do it 24/7 and it appears to me it’s more like they’re addicted. Their work is their drug. To this I can’t relate.

    I’m just not that type of person; however, they do fascinate me as I suspect I would to them.

  90. Cathe says:

    I am a multipotentialite extrovert! Being an extrovert really helps in my job as a Public Affairs Officer for the Civil Air Patrol!

  91. Ian says:

    Hi Emilie & all.

    Like many here I enjoyed and really identified with the TED talk. And identified just as much, if not moreso, with this blogpost. As someone diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety my inner critic is pretty constant, well-developed and insidiously clever. So impostor syndrome is second nature to me. But at this point, so is bowling straight through it.

    As a freelance technologist these days Imposter Syndrome comes up often. I worry that I can’t come through how my clients want me, fret that I don’t know what I should know to be in this job or working independently, and fear that my next move with a client project is going to screw something up royally. But being a freelancer has a benefit: there is literally no one else to do my job. There’s no one to pick up my slack, no one I can defer to or hope jumps in and picks up the ball that I drop out of fear. If I don’t do it, down to the smallest detail, it doesn’t get down. So there’s no choice but to buckle down and do it.

    Part of this is thanks to my last job – I spent ten years as an emergency services dispatcher, taking emergency calls and coordinating the appropriate response as literally the only person in the station. I’m an excellent multitasker, thankfully, and that lended itself toward becoming known as an excellent dispatcher. I handled massive (for our scale) emergencies in a relatively deft manner. House fires, miles-long brush fires, criminal calls like assaults and break-ins. My reputation preceded me as a really good, dependable desk jockey.

    And then the Fear hit. What if I don’t live up to that reputation? What if I take a call and don’t handle it in the right way, miss a detail, fumble a question? What was I doing here in the first place? My personal life was a wreck, I couldn’t even handle my own stuff. Now I was handling people at the worst moments of their lives, I was coordinating a dozen or more responders, handling all the documentation that might have to go to court. AND I had earned this great reputation – it set me up, like the above, for some huge Imposter Syndrome moments.

    But just like freelance life – I was the only one in the office there, too. If I didn’t do it there was no one to pick up my slack. No one to drop the ball and kick it towards. So every single 911 call I swallowed it all and did everything I could because I had to show up.

    So I keep showing up now. I’ve still got the imposter syndrome days and I’m by no means perfect. I bend myself seven ways to Sunday in order to get things done sometimes, and I go way beyond my knowledge base. But I do it because no one’s going to do it for me, and –

    because there’s such amazing satisfaction in proving that inner critic wrong.

  92. Carol says:

    Saw you’re TED talk and found it conforting to know I’m not alone. I’ve always said of myself ‘Jack of all master of none’ when talking about myself. Studied, English Economics and Art (they don’t go!) can plumb a bathroom, fit a kitchen, change a tyre, (all self taught) hit sales targets, underwrite insurance acheive excellence in childcare.
    One thing I cannot master is my boredom threshold. But that’s ok because I’m not the only one!
    Lastly a note on your post – I’m a huge extrovert and not at all famous on any level, but the 1% of me that is introvert needs the solice of quiet alone time just as much as the rest of me. It’s all part of the human condition, and I hope you can find away to manage it, without feeling compromised.
    I want to say a massive THANKYOU, for putting yourself out there. I’m amazing and so are you!

  93. Amanda says:

    I recently started lecturing at one of the University of California campuses. I LOVE teaching. It is fulfilling, I get to be creative with my decisions and assignments, I am a great teacher…however, most class days I come up against major Imposter Syndrome effects. People tell me that I have nothing to worry about, but their encouragement, though a lovely sentiment, does little to boost my sensitive soul.

    I am certainly proud of my accomplishments and know that my teaching will continue to improve with experience, but as a multipotentialite, I would love to feel as confident when I am in my current career move as I do when I enter each next step. It is helpful to hear that others feel similarly. I’m not out here on some unique limb alone. Thanks Emilie for your willingness to share.

  94. Leen says:

    Dear Emilie

    I’ve read your transcript for TedTalk and finally I feel relieved. I thought I was being unfocused for doing 2-3 different kinds of work at the same time. A lot of my friends telling me I overworked myself and none of these three jobs are even related. Thanks to you I don’t see this as a problem, because now I see this as something to be proud of – as you name it multipontentialist. BIG THANK YOU!!

  95. ulli says:

    .
    hi all you fellow imposters

    haven’t gone through all of the comments, so i might just repeat what someone else already said. in this case just see it as some “support!” statement.

    yep, agree to the notion that multipods can do (on average) much more than any (average) specialist can ever accomplish (on average) …
    so, what keeps us grounded and lets not have our egos shooting through the ceiling?
    maybe that’s the good thing about the imposter syndrome?
    the inner voice that tells us “remember, you are mortal”.
    actually a good thing, still it shouldn’t hamper us in being ourselves and use our multi-potentials to the fullest.
    .

    • Anjuli says:

      Oh this is a great comment. Thanks Ulli. I need to remind myself of this sometimes. It’s amazing how widespread and automatic that assumption of “not quite good enough” is. When I challenge my students with “how much of an expert do you have to be for a particular purpose?” or “why should a ‘Renaissance person’ not also be a specialist in one or two fields?” I see them fighting with themselves: sense versus prejudice. In their own words, I’m an “awesome professor”. I’ve never told them their description of someone who knows and can do many things as “not quite good enough” applies to their “awesome professor”. I’ll leave that for the end of the semester :-)

  96. Meron says:

    I feel you, 100%. The feeling of being an imposter and the fear of showing myself occurs more often now that it ever has. But I now let that feel of fear be my guide, my trigger to go for it. Even if that means closing my eyes while doing it. Writing to share love and let you know you’re not alone.

  97. Hanna says:

    Thank you, Emilie! As described above in quite some comments I found your wise words from the TED talk very comforting. And finally I got an idea how I could actually tell people what my profession was – being an creative thinker, manager, artist, journalist, actor and so on at the same time – being a multipotentialite. That’s already enough for a big thank you. But this article deserves another massive thank you: I didn’t know there was a thing called imposter syndrome. This information blows my mind. It suddenly explains my anxieties, exam nerves and sudden almost panic attacks when I try to finish things I’m actually good at. This puts a high stress level on those things that I do really care about and I don’t want to fail at, resulting sometimes in avoiding them all along or having brain locks that make it impossible to produce the usual quality. Thank you so much, I know now that there will be a way to change my – obviously existing – imposter syndrome since cognition is always the first step. (And I guess I just found another topic to investigate as far as it goes…)

  98. KRenee says:

    as you can see, we are a wonderful community mixed and tied together by these profound and glorious gifts – so best to embrace that feeling which may just turn out to be some silly whisper of doubting the true self and continue to shine by placing it under our feet and using it for purpose to rise to yet another sweet level of experience ~ thank you, Emilie for authentic purity <3

  99. Brian Flint says:

    A post – (I NEVER post – Anywhere > till I found Emilie).

    A Multipotentialite;

    Knows that there is no action without impact
    Knows that there is no manifestation without friction
    Knows that there is no galactic ‘right’ answer
    Knows that they don’t know anything (impostor syndrome) – all we know is only a part of what is already truth and without the whole truth – we feel more on the ‘uninformed’ side.
    A multipotentialite should be on the look-out that they are not both experiencing impostor syndrome, but perhaps also experiencing arrogance. Much like an accounting sheet, much like action and externality; modesty and hubris are both part of the human dialect.

    This, being on the ‘uninformed’ side seems to be the root cause of ‘impostor syndrome’. – The multipotentialite wants to be absolutely informed and feels like an impostor until he/she is ‘the’ authority. Partly fear of being out-gunned and largely awareness of the mysteries that are our proverbial carrot.

    Why do I believe I am a multipotentialite? – Fair question isn’t it?
    Because all my life I’ve been unable to face the dread of any specific definition or pursuit as a long-term commitment – no matter how attractive it might seem at the time.
    Whatever I’ve done, I’ve excelled in, I was usually as capable (or would come to be) as the experts (in those) areas which I endeavored.

    Yet I have seldom been a self-advocate. The impostor syndrome coupled with my philosophies tends towards the un-proclaimed. Weighed by self-doubt. – or that- my perceived sense of value is not ultimately reliant on other people’s opinion.
    A degree seems not worth much until you show it to someone else – and that person is expected to be impressed. I am only now, late in life, seeking a simple degree – but ‘most’ of what I’m being taught are things I’ve already taught myself. And little of it encompasses my current compulsions.

    The more I look to perceive myself as a ‘defined’ or unique human experience, the more I feel I am on the wrong track. The more I identify with Multipotentialism, the more I’m cautioned to stop being so arrogant and self-important.
    Emilie mentioned that earlier in the Renaissance age, multipotentialism was valued. This helps me feel like my familiarity with this concept is not unjust, but leaves me wondering if any definition whatsoever might still serve more to restrict rather than liberate.

  100. Alexandra says:

    Hi Emily,
    I’m french, I’m 39 years old and my dad keeps on asking me like a joke : “So, what will you do when you’ll grow up ?!”
    Well, I saw you on TED and it was such a relief : nothing has to be found ! I’m fine the way I am, changing job every year or so !
    I understand that it must be scary all that noise arising suddenly around you. But you have invented the concept and you have chosen a good word to name it, and that’s very important.
    In France, we have a proverb that says :”The first one that compares a woman to a flower is a genius; the second is an idiot.”
    Well, you have been the first one, congrats, enjoy !
    Now you’re free to do something else if you feel like to;)
    Friendly, Alexandra

  101. Archi says:

    Yes, yes and yes. So familiar. Feelings of being an imposter and an expert at the same thing and at the same time.

  102. Shari says:

    I’ve always sabotaged myself because I’ve always been scared of success. I’ve grown up in an environment in which I didn’t fit AT ALL. It’s been hard for me to hear my friends and family always complaining about how different I was. They use to tell me I was different simply because I wanted people to notice me. So I diminished who I was. I was obviously too big and not appreciated, and unheard. I had to leave my country, leave my family behind and now I live in the UK, alone. It’s not easier. I love being surrounded by people. Thank God now, I’m more accepted. Maybe one day I’ll stop being scared and will go back or simply find where I belong.

    Thanks a lot for sharing you do help a lot of people.