My Impostor Syndrome is an Asshole

Janet Taylor
2 min readMay 24, 2016

“You’ve got impostor syndrome bad,” my spouse said to me this weekend.

“It’s not impostor syndrome,” I protested. “I just really don’t know what I’m doing.”

Oh, wait.

But I don’t have the usual kind of impostor syndrome, the kind that prevents forward movement, the kind that prevents growth. I do hard things anyway, and I learn stuff and get better, and I still feel this way. What’s up with that?

There’s a proverb that has permeated much of my life: To whom much is given, much is expected. It runs like a shining thread through my adolescence and young adulthood, pushing me harder. Learn more. Accomplish more. Give more. Do more. You’ve been given so much. Succeed harder.

This is what I hear in my head every day: You’ve been given so much; you’re not doing enough.

Sometimes I feel like I’m running a race I can never win.

What if impostor syndrome, that albatross, that pervasive thing that keeps many of us from achieving bigger things, could instead be an asshole friend? What if it could be a motivating force to be better than we are today?

So I decided to give my impostor syndrome a face, and a name. Say hello to Bob.

Sometimes Bob has a man bun. And sometimes he’s a goth.

Bob wants me to fail. He wants me to stop running, to stop pushing harder and harder. He’s just at my back, mansplaining smug things into my ear.

Well, ACTUALLY…

Fuck you, Bob. Fuck you and your stupid man bun. You’re an asshole and you’ll never win.

I’ll always be one step ahead of you.

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Janet Taylor

Design leader. Recovering software engineer. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer. She/her pronouns.