Besides slaying everyone on the planet with her phenomenal beauty and style, Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o also gives great interviews. The Yale School of Drama graduate talked to StudioSystem News about the audition process for 12 Years of Slave and she brought up something that many people can relate to regardless of career path.
“I suffered from the imposter syndrome, where you work towards something and once it arrives you question whether you’re ready for it or not,” said Nyong’o about her feelings of uneasiness once she was offered the challenging 12 Years a Slave role.
Haven’t we all had a similar thought? Even though you got the degree, did the research, networked your butt off, worked weekends or whatever you did to get to that golden intersection of preparation and opportunity, you have still found yourself doubting yourself. Maybe you’re not really ready. Maybe you’re about to fall flat on your face. Maybe you’re not as good as everyone thinks you are. Maybe you’re a fraud.
And no I’m not a mind reader, I just know that lots of us have this thought process at some point. Consider it a rite of passage in a way. Having those thoughts generally means that you’ve reached a goal/threshold and now it’s your time to push through or let your doubt get the best of you. Hopefully you’ve chosen the former.
I’ve had those thoughts several times through out my two careers. As a young black woman, I was a rarity in the world of urban planning, my first profession. I was frequently the only person of color and/or woman in “important” meetings. More than a few times I was mistaken for an intern before I had even said a word. I had a master’s degree in urban planning under my belt and I put in long hours of research to understand my projects, but I still suffered from that “imposter syndrome” now and again. In the end, I always pushed through it though and did the work to the best of my ability.
Now, as a writer, I still get those pangs. I never went to journalism school, I didn’t decide to start writing full-time until my late 20s and there are people much younger than me who are far more experienced than me in this field. So over these past few years, whenever I snagged an editorial position, a byline in a publication I hold in high esteem or an interview with a celebrity I admire, there’s always a little blip of “Am I good enough?” I ask myself if I deserve it and then I do my best. That’s about all anyone can do.
Have you ever had a case of the “imposter syndrome?” How did/do you deal with it?