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Does anybody else feel like a massive fraud at work?

(42 Posts)
Chocwocdoodah Mon 11-Jul-16 23:11:06

And I don't mean in a modest way - I mean actually knowing that you're shit at your job?

I've been in the same career for about 10 years and I'm just no good at it. I've been freelance most of that time which has allowed me to get away with staying at the same level without being questioned about why I'm not more senior (as I've been employed by the same companies repeatedly who take me on at pretty much the same level each time). At my age I should be more senior but I absolutely do not want the responsibility and would hate leading a team. I'm a much better team player.

I just seem to lack the most basic knowledge and this is partly because I have a complete inability to retain information. My memory is dreadful. For example I honestly cannot tell you what modules I studied at uni or any details of the books I read. I even struggle reading books now as once I put them down I forget the plot/characters. I am definitely one of those people whose memory has been permanently outsourced to Google.

Whenever someone at work wants a meeting/chat, I feel sick that they're going to ask something I can't answer. I've just started a new role as an inhouse consultant and I feel so exposed. I'm so up and down - I can feel confident in the morning then make one slip up or feel unsure about something and I just feel sick from then on.

Also I'm often mistaken at work for being much younger than I am. Although people say I look young I'm pretty sure it's actually because I don't come across particularly authoratitive. I feel silly telling people what I do as it almost feels like play-acting.

I just wish I could not work - just so I didn't have to feel like this.

Otherwise I'm a really sociable, confident person.

Sorry this is a stream of consciousness and I'm not sure what anyone can say to help, really....?

JaneJefferson Mon 11-Jul-16 23:59:01

I guess they would not keep taking you on if you were not doing a useful job.

HeadFullofSteam Tue 12-Jul-16 00:01:11

Google Imposter Syndrome.

AdultingIsNotWhatIExpected Tue 12-Jul-16 00:01:54

It's called something like "imposter syndrome" or something like that

It's a theory as to one of the reasons why women are less likely to go for promotions than men

We expect too much of ourselves and think we're shit, we think everyone else knows what they're doing

Everyone else is faking it! thing is, generally men think that being a good faker means they're awsome, and women think it means they're shite!

AdultingIsNotWhatIExpected Tue 12-Jul-16 00:02:38

x post HeadFullofSteam grin

lougle Tue 12-Jul-16 00:16:09

Imposter syndrome. I've had 3 days in a row at work (shift worker) and I've come away feeling like I should hang up my hat and all my colleagues are amazing.

Daisy2016 Tue 12-Jul-16 00:20:00

I felt like that all the time in my previous job. My confidence eventually completely left and still haven't got it back. I started that job feeling smart professional young educated confident you name it. I slowly started to feel I didn't deserve it. I made silly mistakes. I struggled to concentrate and remember things and stopped believing in myself. I took constructive criticism to heart.

You must do the work you do well. You should believe in yourself. Sometimes were our own worst enemy! flowersg

NowWhat1983 Tue 12-Jul-16 01:20:14

ah it has a name: imposter syndrome.

even though I have the certificates, passed the exams, did the work for over a decade, I feel like a fraud.

Hoppinggreen Tue 12-Jul-16 14:46:49

You are freelance, it would be very easy to get rid of you IF you actually were rubbish.They haven't so clearly you aren't

daisychain01 Tue 12-Jul-16 16:34:07

Honestly, I would sweat the small stuff, sounds like the work you are doing is well within your capabilities. Doesn't sound like you are looking to move up to the lofty heights of management and you are better in a team. Great, a good solid member of a team is a great asset management to a project, said from someone who's a project manager and good people are like Unicorn shit.

It doesn't make you better or worse than anyone else. 99% of us will be forgotten within a day or two of leaving our employers so it just shows how unimportant it is in the grand scheme of life!

daisychain01 Tue 12-Jul-16 16:35:41

Not sure how that stray "management" got there.

See, I'm a rubbish typist!

LipsyDee1981 Tue 12-Jul-16 17:01:40

I felt like this is in a previous role. Didn't help that my manager was very quick to criticise and slow to praise!

I ended up having a slight career change, ie to something different but related to my old job. It's been a revelation! I've realised I'm talented and have a lot to offer. My new team are supportive and acknowledge a job well done. My confidence has grown enormously.

In my old job I used to want to get pregnant so I could have kids and have an excuse to quit and become a SAHM. Now I'm actually a bit reluctant to have kids anytime soon as I'm actually enjoying work for the first time in years!

I didn't used to want to be more senior as I was scared of responsibility, but now I'm actively seeking a promotion and I'm going to be asking at my next appraisal if and when I'll be promoted and what I need to do to secure a promotion. Can't quite believe how confident I've become!

Perhaps consider a career change if it's not for you?

Also, if the company keeps employing you, it sounds like they think you do a decent job. What's your evidence that you are no good at your job?

crayfish Tue 12-Jul-16 19:07:25

Oh my god. You are me! I've been in my job over ten years and never really progressed but it's managed to be covered up by lots of 'restructuring'. I am ok at my job but it's much less demanding than it appears and I regularly Google things I don't know.

I also don't remember much about the five years I spent at uni. I vaguely remember what my dissertation was about but have no idea what modules I did. I don't remember lecturers names or anything, and it's even worse if I try to remember things further back than that. I can pick things up quickly though, I just don't retain information at all.

I am actually scared to get a new job (even an equivalent one to the one I have now) in case I get found out. I also lack ambition in some ways in that I have no desire to manage anyone or anything and am quite happy at my level. I do have a reasonable job but no desire to progress.

No advice for you obviously, but I totally get it.

Rosamund1 Tue 12-Jul-16 21:08:30

This is a really good Ted talk by a woman who felt like she was an 'imposter' in her prestigious role. 21 mins but really worth it.
www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en&utm_source=tedcomshare&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tedspread

scoobyloobyloo Tue 12-Jul-16 21:16:08

I have a very responsible management role. Those who know me well nickname me the swan due to being totally together on the surface yet always fighting a tidal surge of self doubt underneath.

My very confident line manager was very shocked when I told him how I really felt. He told me I was very good at faking it and actually that's the best trait you can have at work.

Hav faith that you still get hired - they wouldn't use you if they didn't rate you. Go into work tomorrow and look at how very one is faking it - it does make you feel better!

Chocwocdoodah Tue 12-Jul-16 23:38:48

Thank you all for your supportive words.

Yes I know I should think that I can't be that bad if I keep being rehired but I think it's just luck that I've managed to dodge the scenarios where I know I wouldn't perform v well. Take today at work for example - I was asked to do some basic planning for a project - something I should be able to do standing on my head. I literally felt sick - I had several different ideas in my head and just did not know which was the right choice. I should be able to judge something like that but I couldn't. I eventually emailed my boss my ideas - and sat at my desk waiting, terrified, for his response. Thank God he agreed with what I said - but the point is I didn't feel knowledgeable enough to know I'd made the right choice. That's generally how my working days go - from terror to feeling positive when I get some thing right, back to terror etc - up/down all day long.

I watch other people in meetings answer questions and consult in a really casual way because they know their stuff. If I'm quizzed on anything I do, I can feel my mouth drying up and the panic setting in.

I get the imposter syndrome idea but I don't think that's me - I've got friends who I'd put in that category as they doubt themselves but the difference is they are actually really good at their jobs and they enjoy their work which indicates some level of confidence I think.

Crayfish - yes, you sound just like me! I too have no desire to progress - which makes me sad because it's not laziness, I'd really love to be amazing at a job and go for promotions because I knew I was great - but that's never going to happen. And I Google stuff about my own bloomin industry all the time!! Do you think there is something out there that you would be good at but you just don't know what it is?

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 12-Jul-16 23:48:48

I think it's natural and normal to have self doubt. Actually I think it's really important because the minute you feel you know everything is the minute you stop learning and you stop being open to new ideas and solutions.

I have a tendency to think of 400 things at once and what I need is time to gather my thoughts a little. Ask me in that initial window and it's likely to be a stream of consciousness that comes out. So I tend to say "these are the things I am thinking about and I'm going to go away and think about it". I also say "I'd like to double check that before I say for definite, can I come back to you in half an hour/tomorrow/five minutes?".

But yeah, sounds like imposter syndrome to me and I know what that feels like!

crayfish Wed 13-Jul-16 14:46:51

I definitely think there is something out there I would be good at and could feel confident in, I just don't know what it is! I'm 36 now and I feel like I've missed the boat for figuring that out or retraining and now I'm stuck. If I look at other jobs (even ones at the same level) I just think it sounds really hard and boring - even if it's the same job I actually do!

Chocwocdoodah Wed 13-Jul-16 20:08:44

Weird, Crayfish, we are the same age too....!

DetestableHerytike Wed 13-Jul-16 20:22:14

This is impostor syndrome. You are doing fine.

Emeralda Wed 13-Jul-16 20:27:05

Read Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In. Even she has experienced this.

Truckingalong Wed 13-Jul-16 20:57:26

It's pretty obvious from the way you write, your sentence construction, choice of words etc that you're an intelligent human being! Seriously, try to stop being quite so hard on yourself. You're either adequate at worst or brilliant at best and possibly somewhere in between. Please try and put down the angst - you are punishing yourself unnecessarily.

GirlWithTheLionHeart Wed 13-Jul-16 21:00:07

So this is why men run the world

camelfinger Wed 13-Jul-16 21:02:33

I've met very few people in the world of work who are truly brilliant. Most people seem to have bad memories/poor organisation skills/turn up to meetings unprepared etc but they blame all that on "just being so busy". Nobody fires them (unfortunately)

sanmiguelmakesmewell Wed 13-Jul-16 21:08:35

This is so weird. I was thinking today how I feel like such a fraud at work!
Started a new job a few months ago & it's quite high pressure. I sat there today & thought ' I actually have no idea what I'm doing'

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