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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jeffrey

The Seven States of a Working Class Cultural Professional's Life

State 6: Impostor Syndrome

I hope my previous articles in this serious have established the fact that a working class cultural professional is by definition lacking social capital and that you’re working in an alien world happy to let you know regularly you’re not supposed to be here.

I’d be amazed, therefore, if you haven’t experienced impostor syndrome as a result at least once on your journey.

This is normal, I coach senior leaders in the civil service dealing with top level politicians and serious issues and they experience exactly the same thing. It’s a normal human reaction to being placed in uncomfortable situations.

It can cause problems though, it can limit your ambitions, create anxiety, stress and self-induced pressure as you struggle to get to grips with this work you’re so passionate about and are, in fact, extremely good at.

So what is impostor syndrome?

It’s a well understood phenomenon where you feel a fraud or that you are going to be found out that you are not all you’re cracked up to be.

It stems from uncomfortable situations where your success has not been internalised leaving you lacking deep positive self-worth.

It is very situational specific.

In most parts of your life this is probably not an issue but in this middle class cultural professional world you suddenly feel it as a persistent low level stress that never seems to go away.

It can be caused by a new challenges, a new job or by comparing yourself to others who seem to effortlessly achieve without seeming to break a sweat. If you’re from a marginalised group this sense is exacerbated.

You may feel big expectations are not deliverable and that is your fault.

You may feel there is a right way of doing things but nobody has told you what that way is so you are worried about making mistakes.

To avoid being found out you may shift jobs regularly or you may limit your ambitions as you begin to believe you’re not capable of doing bigger and better things.

Or you may even over react and work doubly hard and be in full on over achievement modes.

The responses to Impostor syndrome are wide and varied and depend on how you respond to pressures and the particular context you’re working in.

None of these responses are healthy though and can be severe. Anxiety, depression, burn out, emotional

So when you are a working class cultural professional you are by definition at risk.

Because you have nothing to fall back on, lack of family, social networks, cash in the bank force you to worry and ask yourself can I even do this?

I’m here to tell you that YES you can do this, though you might need a little bit of help.

Dealing with impostor syndrome requires a rebuild of your unconditional positive self-regard, a deep and resilient resource to be drawn on when times are tough.

We do this by understanding the pressures you’re facing and identify tools which help you manage situations.

We may revisit your personal story to rebuild that positive sense of self regard for the situation you are feeling impostor syndrome.

Through talking we can get a different perspective on the challenges facing you.

We can identify triggers which flick you into impostor syndrome and then reframe your principles to stop that stress being created.

It’s all doable, it’s all solvable.

All you need is focussed time to get you feeling like the fully realised professional you know you are.

If you’re experiencing impostor syndrome, message me, together we can resolve it.

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