Imposter Syndrome for Your Dream Job? Better Wear The Right Suit...
“What’s your best card to play?” I ask. “What is it that you can play in this situation that’s true to you, and that they need?”
He looked back at me seriously, a bit amusingly. Rubbing his chin in his forefinger and thumb, he chewed over the question with relaxed intensity.
“No one wants it more. No one is hungrier for it. These guys are the best of the best. Every single one of them has this job and runs their own business. This is the next step, the next level, and I’m not at it yet. But that’s where I’m going. I’m not more experienced but no one is hungrier for it.”
We’d been talking about this interview for two days; that’s all he’d had time for. Two days of knowing he got the first interview (he went in the following day). Then not ten minutes after that first round came a text to come in for a second interview. He was told to prepare. He was told to study on the two days he had before it to know his sh*t. He was told to read up online about the company, the standards, the person at the helm of this celebrity-level-company of craftsmanship and determination and a mixture of worldwide pride that heralded influences of generations upon generations of tradition, necessity, work ethic, and of course flavor. All to prepare for an interview at a company that was his dream.
This wasn’t just the next step, it was a quantum leap. This job was part of his dream in his career sector.
I could of course wax poetic on his own determination. On the drive in him that makes him so stubborn that ‘no’ is only a word he uses but never accepts. I could write miles of prose on his ethics but that’s beside the point. What is amusing for me is to watch such a person of passion be in the throes of intimidation. He almost enjoys intimidation, which is so different from my own approach which is to converse internally about how unworthy I am.
Have you ever wanted something so bad you convinced yourself you don’t deserve it, can’t handle it, or altogether don’t want it? Have you ever aspired to something so big you gave up before you really tried? Have you ever held your own dream as a secret so dear no one knew you had it? I’m that type. I have aspirations for my work that not even my closest friends and family know. I have dreams so big I don’t even admit them to my diary. He, on the other hand, is a better conversationalist. He knows that when it comes to ideas, which are made of words (albeit ambitious words), he’ll be able to swim because he can talk himself into or out of just about anything, including speeding tickets and jobs.
So his card, we agree as we mull over the next interview in tomorrow’s time, is to be honest. To state very blatantly that no one wants it more. No, he doesn’t own his own company (yet). No he hasn’t won awards in his field like his future colleagues. But no one is hungrier.
“So tell them that, straightly and matter of factly. Don’t pretend like you’re better or know more. Don’t wear a suit that doesn’t fit. Be honest.”
That’s the thing with dreams: they should be intimidating. Their waters should always feel a little too deep as you tread in them. Too far flung. That’s what makes them a dream rather than reality or tradition or whatever expected-ness people project on the future. That’s the very difference between the future (something we predict with logic) and potential. Between the future and possibility. The element of nonsensical, whimsical want that transforms what is into not only what could be, but what is as of yet unforeseeable. Thus, something new entirely.
At my last request, that he’s honest, he nods knowingly. We take a long hard look at each other and what this dream possibility means for him. That not being able to talk his way in and earn his right to start at this new level of bottom would do to his ego, in both good and bad ways. But we also know there’s no other choice.
One can work as hard as they like in their field on a specific, safe, expected level and receive much accolades and acclaim but it is not till one is humbled, humiliatingly, like this that the game becomes a true challenge that any of it matters. I know too well myself; it was a deep, crippling depression that let me know I wasn’t trying hard enough that pulled me out of that safety net and back into the deep ocean of possibility where I feel no more comforted and certainly much less worthy and successful, but there’s hardly time to second guess it when I have to keep treading in this too-deep water.
For you it might mean leaving your company to go freelance or start your own project business (you know who you are…). It might mean leaving your hometown, your marriage, your entire career path for the possibility of the thing you long for so much you’ve never once uttered it to another human.
And in such cases, to attempt to ‘fake it till you make it’ would be fruitless. You cannot fake a facade you haven’t seen. So there is only one rule:
Don’t wear a suit that doesn’t fit.
Don’t be afraid to learn. Don’t be too embarrassed to be a novice. Don’t let your pride be bigger than your potential to learn, grow, evolve, and master. Wear the student uniform rather than the professor’s suit if you must. You will grow into your right fit as you learn...if you are hungry enough. And as the universe always provides, the right teacher will appear to tailor to just what you need in order to be your best.
Where can I be more honest, open, and curious through my own vulnerability and lack of knowledge?
How can I build confidence in my ability to adapt, learn, and grow?
What tactics can I use to stop convincing myself of low worth and instead empower myself towards my own potential?