Speaking at conferences and the imposter syndrome

The truth is I never feel qualified to speak at conferences.

I just recently in the past few months pushed myself to do them, and at first I was sure no one would accept my submission, but I got a very high success rate. When I read up on the other presenters I’m always like wow this person did this, and that person did that. And I think I have a tendency to compare myself to all of them together, I think this a common thing we do with our “system 1” (from the Thinking Fast and Slow book). If you were to ask someone if they do it, they would be like, of course not that doesn’t make any sense. But in that moment, I think that’s what we do. Is it the imposter syndrome? Perhaps, I know I have many signs of it. And while I do think being humble is much better than being arrogant I think it’s sometimes hard for me to walk the line between humble and imposter syndrome. Maybe it’s the birds of a feather flock together scenario but it seems a common pattern in my friends.

5 thoughts on “Speaking at conferences and the imposter syndrome

  1. I think there there’s a difference between imposter syndrome and humble and that the two are not mutually exclusive so no need to walk a line there.

    Humble is knowing your accomplishments but not bragging. Imposter syndrome is not recognizing your own accomplishments to the point of making you feel as though you are in above your head. I think the imposter syndrome is common in people who were taught to be humble but failed to learn how to recognize their accomplishments.

    That said, what has helped me get past my imposter syndrome issues is to write down a list of my accomplishments and have someone who knows me professionally to call me out when I fail to recognize them. That way, next time I’m in a room full of people I consider far more experienced (or “better”) than I, I can look at that list and remind myself that I worked hard to get where I am and I deserve to be there and – to a certain extent – should have those accomplishments recognized. All that can be done well within the humble lines.

  2. I have a tough enough time giving flash talks for the same reason. At least I know they’re over in 5-10 minutes. I also tend to end with “Any Questions? (I hope not)” 🙂

    So where are you speaking?

    • Man, I did not see these comments come in. I’m like 6 months late. I was speaking at phpconf.asia and phpsouthafrica.com

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