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Post-impostor syndrome…

…turns out we’re all the same, who’d have thought it?!…

It’s been a while since I wrote an article and I’ve been desperately trying to think of a decent topic to cover. Over the past few weeks and months my life was focused around Time to Talk day and the launch of DSCVR into the app store. I haven’t had time to think!

During the events for Time to Talk and at the subsequent event with Leeds Council, I received a lot of feedback. A lot of people said a lot of really nice things about me.

I even had people tell me I changed/saved their life…

This is a lot to take in and a lot to process and it’s taken me a good few weeks to come to terms with it all. I’ve spent hours with my counsellor and also talking with my friends and family about it. It still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

It’s a fake…

Quick aside: I will be doing another article on ‘The Curse of Memory’, which links in to what I am about to say, but it too big of a subject to just cover in a small outtake. To summarise, I remember a lot of tiny details from a long time ago. I have terrible short term memory but unbelievable long term memory. As such I see myself as ‘cursed’ to remember things other people may not.

I consider myself a failure.

I’ve said it before so I won’t reiterate my reasoning, but in general, I consider myself a failure at most things in life and at life itself.

Lots of people talk about ‘Impostor Syndrome’ and mostly it can be summarised as ‘doubting one’s accomplishments’ which leads to a internalised fear of being exposed as an impostor.

I consider this almost a basic part of my personality now. I think this is partly because of how I have changed over the years (grown up…) and a fear that all that change can be unwritten. Some examples below;

I went to Leeds Grammar School (now The Grammar School at Leeds… FML). We were spoon fed accomplishment every day. We were told how special we were. Those of us that did well at studies were praised even more. Arrogance was almost a GCSE.

I was arrogant. It was hard not to be! I know I hurt my friends and family with this arrogance. I hurt my own standing because of this arrogance. It is painful to remember it all; but for an insight into my memory…

I once threatened my parents with calling childline on 0800 1111.

I once lobbied against the teachers because they disapproved of my ‘spiky’ hair claimed it as discrimination. (it’s still the same shit hairstyle today…)

I was arrogant and I look back on these actions (and the many many more I can remember in incredible detail) and I wince at the person I was. I became so embarrassed by it even then that I stopped outwardly expressing myself.

My most lasting and treasured memory of my teenage years was when I was at LANcity playing counter-strike with people I didn’t know all that well and didn’t go to school with. I said I had to go collect my A2 level results so couldn’t play with them. Their response (paraphrased);

Wait, you’re doing A2 levels? We thought you were a drop out. Didn’t realise you were studying. What are you studying and expecting to get?

Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry… 4 As (actually got a B in further maths!)

Needless to say they were suddenly in awe and started treating me as ‘the smart kid’.

This is why #breakingthestigma is important to me. I’ve never wanted to be measured by accomplishments, just by my personality and who I am outside of how society typically measures us. I want to be known as me. Just some guy from Leeds.

The fear…

I am scared to feel the positivity surrounding the work I am doing at miz7.com and the talks I am giving. Everyone says really nice things about me, but I constantly worry that If I allow myself to feel them, really feel them, then I could revert back to who I was almost 20 years ago.

Stupid right.

I do not see myself as someone who inspires people, or changes lives. I don’t have qualifications to demonstrate what I’m saying is anything more than opinion or hearsay.

I feel that friends and family who say these things are saying them to make me feel better, knowing that I still struggle with depression. I feel that people who read my articles or attend my talks say these things because it is the done thing to do and say.

To me; I am just some guy from Leeds. I’ve had an over-privileged, under-lived life and had a load of really shit things happen to me over the course of a few years. I’ve tried to turn those shit things into a net positive for the rest of the world.

Fatherly advice…

I have a really complicated relationship with my Dad. Really fucking complicated. He is both my greatest role model and the antithesis of everything I have come to believe as I’ve grown up.

To say he is one of the best things to ever come out of Middlesborough would be an understatement. The success he has had in his career is beyond my expectations. The love he has for his family has no bounds.

So…

He has recently started a new job at Upfield.

I can’t remember the date, but about ten years ago we were sat in our family kitchen and he was saying he felt he had failed in his career…

…because he’d never run a FTSE 100 listed company…

…I mean, sure, but by that measure, there are only 100 successful people at any one time and everyone else is a failure. No biggie.

Whilst he new job isn’t running a FTSE 100 listed company, it is his ‘last hurrah’. He will probably (not likely) retire after this, finishing his career on the highest note possible. We as a family are so incredibly proud of what he has accomplished and what he is doing.

So…

Last weekend we were having breakfast together. We don’t get to see each other a lot due to diary conflicts, so we do what we can when we can. He tells me he is ‘still wrestling’ with the job.

Go on…

He continues… “I’m just some fucking guy from Yorkshire. I want to be at home, in my jim-jams (pyjamas) with my feet up watch telly.”

(sound familiar yet)

“Every week, I put on my suit, I give your mum a kiss on the platform at York Station and I get on the train. Then I swap into work mode. I jet-set around the world doing the biggest job I’ve ever done. All I want to do is get home at the end of the week, sit down in front of the fire with your mum and the TV on. Just want to be back in my home in Yorkshire with my family.”

And then it hit me…

When we’re all impostors, no-one is an impostor…

Seeing my dad essentially describe himself as someone who ‘wears a mask’ as I say it, made me see that all of us, regardless of success, regardless of generation, regardless of wealth, happiness, home or anything else, all have our own insecurities about our success and current position in life.

What it also means though is our existing business culture supports and maintains this, otherwise it wouldn’t happen. So what does this mean for us in the workplace.

Praise each other more!

I have a slide dedicated this in Breaking the Stigma, but it is even more relevant now that I have put the pieces together.

Thanking people, praising people, complimenting people…

These should be mainstays in our culture at work and at home.

Lots of people talking about ‘banter’ and ‘casual competition’. Whilst these are fun and interesting, they often lead to an environment where people are happier insulting someone (even if it is in jest) and find it harder to take genuine compliments (as the norm is to be insulted). As this has become commonplace, no one believes nice things said about them and therefore everyone feel like a fraud or impostor when something nice is said.

How many of you say…

“Oh it wasn’t that hard.”

“I’m not an expert.”

“It’s easy when you know how.”

“There are others that know far more than me.”

When we’re all seeking acceptance and seeking reassurance, we need to take what is said and believe it.

We can still be impostors. We can still feel like impostors. But just know that everyone else feels the same way. The way to not feel like impostors is to simply be more genuine, both in giving and receiving compliments.

Open at the close…

Here’s an open request to anyone who reads these articles long enough to get to the end; I am looking for more opportunities to give my talk(s) and do more keynote and public speaking. I am looking for opportunities to help companies and partnerships build better cultures for mental well-being in their offices. I want to help people grow in confidence and be happier in their lives. If you know of any opportunities, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Dead Weight is back but this time on Division 2. I will be continuing to live stream content on Twitch. It’s a little slower paced than other games I have played before, but it is really rewarding gameplay overall.

You will also have noticed that the site has been refreshed! I’ve spent a little bit of money bringing everything up to scratch and am going to continue to work on the content. I want to work on some video content, but haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do that yet.

…new business cards with a choice of five different depressing backgrounds…

Please do keep in touch and remember to be true to yourself!

As always you can follow along with my journey on TwitchFacebookTwitterInstagram and Discord.

Thank you

Andrew Salkeld

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