(Mirrored from a Tumblr post originally written on Feb 9th, 2015)
When I express any shred of doubt about whether I deserve or am qualified for something, people often try to reassure me that I am just experiencing impostor syndrome. About 10% of the time, it’s true. Amelia Greenhall’s excellent piece, however, has inspired me to clear up a big misconception about what is happening the other 90% of the time.
While there are a few situations that make me feel insecure, I am, for the most part, an excellent judge of what I’m capable of. Expressing a reasonable amount of doubt and concern about a situation that is slightly outside my comfort zone is normal, responsible behavior. Understanding my limits and being willing to acknowledge them is, in fact, one of my strengths. I don’t think it should be pathologized alongside the very real problem of “impostor syndrome”.
In fact, it is the opposite behavior—the belief that you can do anything, including things you are blatantly not qualified for or straight up lying about—should be pathologized. It has many names (Dunning-Krueger, illusory superiority), but I suggest we call it blowhard syndrome as a neat parallel. Blowhard syndrome is all around us, but I have a special fondness in my heart for the example my friend Nicole once had taxidermied on her Twitter profile.
Just to be clear, I’m not mad at anyone who has tried to reassure me by telling me I have impostor syndrome, and I recognize it as a real problem that lots of talented people struggle with. But I am furious at a world in which women and POC are being told to be as self-confident as a group of mostly white dudes who are basically delusional megalomaniacs. We’re great the way we are, level-headed self-assessments and all. Stop rewarding them for being jackasses.
My totally reasonable amount of self-confidence is not a syndrome; dudes' bloated senses of self-worth and the expectations we’ve built around them are. Correct accordingly.