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in many challenges: personal and professional
we are held back by the crippling thought
that people like us could not possibly triumph
given what we know of ourselves
how reliably: stupid, anxious, gauche, crude, vulgar and dull
we really are.
we live the possibility of succes, to others
because we do not seem to ourselves
to be anything like the sort of people we see lauded around us
faced with responsibility or prestige, we quickly become convinced
that we are simply: impostors
like an actor, in the role of a pilot
wearing a uniform, and making sunny cabin announcements
while utterly incapable, of even starting the engines
it can feel easier, simply not to try
the root cores of the impostor syndrome
is a hugely unhelpful picture of what other people are really like
we feel like impostors, not because we are uniquely flawed
but because we fail to imagine how deeply flawed
everyone else must necessarily, also be
beneath the more or less, polished surface.
the impostor syndrome has its roots far back in childhood
specifically, in the powerful sense children have that their parents, are really very different from them
to a four year old, it's incomprehensible that their mother was once their age
and unable to drive a car, tell the plumber what to do
decide other people's bedtimes and go on planes with colleagues
the gulf in status appears absolute and unbreachable
the child's passionate loves
pouncing on the sofa, pingu, toblerone
have nothing to do with those of adults
who like to sit at a table, talking for hours
when they could be running about outside
and drink beer, which tastes of rusty metal
we start out in life with a very strong impression
that other people, especially competent and admirable other people
are really not like us, at all
this childhood experience
dovetails with a basic feature of the human condition:
we know ourselves from the inside
but we know others only from the outside
so we're constantly aware of all our anxieties, doubts and idiocies
yet all we know of others
is what they happen to do and tell us
which is a far narrower and more edited source of information.
We're often left to conclude
that we are isolated at the more freakish and revolting end of human nature
far from it
we're just failing to imagine
that others are, of course, every bit as disturbed as we are
without knowing exactly what it is
that troubles or racks another, outwardly very impressive person
we can be sure that it will be something.
We might not know exactly what they regret
but there will be agonizing feelings of some kind
we won't be able to say exactly
what kind of unusual, sexual kink obsesses them?
but there will be one
and we can know this because vulnerabilities and compulsions
cannot be curses that have just ascended upon us uniquely
they are universal features of human mental equipment
the solution to the impostor syndrome
lies in making a crucial leap of faith:
the leap that others' minds must work
in basically much the same way as ours do
everyone must be as anxious, uncertain and wayward as we are
it's a leap of faith because we just have to accept
that the majority of what we feel and are
especially the more shameful, unmentionable sides
will have a corollary in each and every one of us
one of the tasks that works of art should ideally accomplish
is to take us more reliably into the minds of people we're intimidated by
in order to show us the more average, muddled and fretful experiences that they have
that way, we would be helped to understand
that we're not barred by our vulnerabilities from doing what they do
that's what the philosopher Montaigne
writing in the 16th century
was attempting to do
when he playfully informed his readers in plain French that
"kings and philosophers shit and so do ladies!"
Montaigne's point is that for all the evidence that exists about this shitting
we might not guess that these people ever had to squat on a toilet
we never see distinguished types doing this
while of course we are immensely well informed
about our own digestive activities
and therefore we build up a sense
that because we have crude and sometimes rather desperate bowels
we can't be philosophers, kings or ladies
and that if we set ourselves up in these roles
we would just be impostors
Montaigne's example is a neat one
because despite the lack of evidence
we know that these exalted people
must of course excrete in exactly the same way we do
So, with Montaigne's guidance
we're invited to take on a saner sense of what
grand, powerful and beautiful people are really like
but the real target isn't just an under confidence about bodily functions
this point extends into the psychological arena too
Montaigne might also have said that kings, philosophers and ladies
are wracked by self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy
sometimes bump into doors
and have weird, lustful thoughts about members of their own families
Furthermore, instead of considering only the big figures of 16th century France
we could update this example
and refer to CEOs, corporate lawyers, news presenters and successful start-up entrepreneurs
they too, can't cope, feel they might buckle under pressure
and look back on certain decisions with shame and regret
No less than shitting, such feelings are not what separates us from them
our inner frailties don't cut us off from doing what they do
If we were in their roles, we'd not be impostors
we'd simply be normal
Making a leap of faith around what other people are really like
helps us to humanize the world
it means that whenever we encounter a stranger
we're not really encountering a stranger
we're in fact encountering someone
who is, in spite of the surface evidence to the contrary
in basic ways, very much like us
and therefore, nothing fundamental stands between us
and the possibility of responsibility, success and fulfillment.
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冒名者綜合症狀 (The Impostor Syndrome)

793 分類 收藏
莊淳皓 發佈於 2017 年 3 月 24 日    餓犬 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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