The Great Imposter


@ninagarcia: “The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” Robert Hughes

When I read the tweet from Nina Garcia, I realized how true those words were. I started doing research on the subject, as a former lawyer is prone to do. I discovered that there is an actual Imposter Syndrome out there. It affects women more often than men. It finds talented women doubting themselves and their choices. I am surprised at how often I encounter a decorator who is flat out amazing at what they do, but are afraid to enter cake shows. They don’t think they are good enough. They give their cakes away for free or little money because they don’t think they have the right to charge.

Dr. Valerie Young is an internationally known speaker, author and expert on women and impostor syndrome. Her book — The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive In Spite of It (Crown Business, Random House) is a fascinating look into how so many accomplished and capable people suffer from self doubt. She lists Tina Fey and Maya Angelou as two who have admitted that they suffer from this disease.

Apparently, some of the people with this syndrome vacillate between egomania and imposter thoughts. In this situation, Tina Fey says she rides the egomania times and tries to get everything done that she can when she feels invincible. When the insecurities come, she struggles to remind herself that the feelings aren’t real.

I know more than a few decorators like this. I might be one of them! One day I can feel like I am a great teacher and that I should be doing books, DVDs and traveling overseas. The next day, I look at a class project and think I am not worthy of teaching anyone. I start to doubt my skills, my classes and the projects I design. When the imposter feeling comes over you, you MUST have someone you can talk to who will tell you to snap out of it. I do it for my friends and they do it for me. I cannot even count the number of times Susan Carberry has talked me off a ledge!!

One of the most important things you can do is to remember that the self doubt you feel is COMPLETELY NORMAL. In fact, I would worry more about someone who never faces insecurity. I think it is that angst that makes us push harder to do a better job. It is the little voice inside that says “you can do better”. If you believe you are perfect, you are likely a narcissist and have stopped learning and trying to do better. Thankfully, I do not know many of these!

The next time the customer calls and you doubt your abilities, put on your imposter hat and pretend you are on top of it. Sooner or later, you won’t be pretending anymore…you will have it under control! 20140530-112315-40995155.jpg

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5 thoughts on “The Great Imposter

  1. It doesn’t surprise me that women suffer from this mire than men. And, in decorating it is really no surprise–it’s “just” cake. Women’s talents have been brushed aside for so long….we are used to having our talents maligned or discounted. We have to teach ourselves and each other that our talents are valuable.

  2. So so true. One of these days I just know I will be exposed for how little talent I have. I am so in awe of these up and coming super artistic sweet artists. The sugar world possibilities just keep growing.

  3. Interesting….I was just thinking about things like this the other day. I wish I could get better, I know I can get better but I still have doubts about what I can actually do. Great Sugar Zen Ruth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

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