Some people may not know it, but I suffer from acute imposter syndrome. This is not a news update. I’ve had imposter syndrome most of my life. The irony is that I am, in fact, a certified, genuine genius with a college education, years of professional work experience, and multiple cybersecurity certifications. Unfortunately, feelings don’t care about empirical evidence. They just are.
Over the years, I have developed ways to counter my difficulty in accepting my own capabilities and skills. One technique is to prominently display my certifications, degrees, and other mementos indicating that third parties can and do vouch for the fact that I really do know what I’m talking about. I refer to it as my “I love me” wall. To other imposter syndrome sufferers, I’d like to suggest another technique that I have begun to use in the last year or so.
I want you to start thinking about and talking about your “superpowers” when you speak about what you’re capable of doing. Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, let me explain what I’m talking about.
I believe that every person has certain things at which they excel. Some people are great at raising children. Other people can take five day leftover random stuff in the refrigerator and make a fabulous meal. Still others can write 26 characters of code that will do 12 different things simultaneously. Some heal the sick or comfort the suffering. Some write songs or plays or poems. Some teach, or lead, or defuse tensions when they escalate between people.
Take a moment now and think, really, really think, about something that you can do better than anyone you know. That is one of your super powers. To give you an idea of what I mean, let me describe a couple of my superpowers.
Technobabble translation is one of them. Having grown up as the one and only geek in my entire family, I learned at a very young age how to explain gadgets, gizmos, and other techie stuff to my non-geek relatives and friends. This particular superpower helped me when I was a museum guide, and later, a lecturer at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. It is also extremely useful when giving any kind of technical training, which I did for years through Glendale Community College.
Another superpower I have is the ability to ramp upon new skills or technologies quickly. Not only am I able to pick things up more rapidly than the average person, but when I learn new things I also assimilate them quickly and can put them to use almost immediately. That one comes in handy a lot working in information technology because new technologies are developed every day, and everything else is constantly evolving!
I also make the BEST tapioca pudding on the planet, and I’m pretty amazing at karaoke.
So what can you do to find your own superpowers?
If you are anything like me, you probably don’t think about your superpowers as anything special. It’s just a part of who and what you are and you most likely don’t notice when you are using them. So take a moment and think about things that other people come to you for help with.
- Is there something your friends or family members always ask for your advice about?
- Is there something you do at work that no one else in the company seems to have the knack for?
- Do you have a “special trick” or two for doing something others can’t quite manage?
Things like these are little indicators of your superpowers. As I said, you probably don’t think anything of them, but I encourage you to do so now and use these clues to find your superpowers for yourself.
Then next part of the process is more challenging, unfortunately. Once you have identified your superpowers (and I’m betting you have more than one), you need to shift your thinking and give yourself credit for having a unique and special gift. This means you need to change your inner monologue, adding in statements acknowledging your superpower and deleting derogatory statements, or self talk that downgrades your self worth.
I never said it was easy, and I fully acknowledge that I’m still working on this myself. That said, it does get easier over time, and self knowledge is a powerful thing.
Hey, it worked for Neo, right? 😉