“The assumption that you have to know everything before you consider yourself competent is a big reason why you – and a lot of other people – walk around feeling like a clueless fraud.” ~ Dr. Valerie Young
Many talented and creative people experience impostor or fraud feelings and beliefs about themselves, despite their accomplishments.
How can we change those feelings to be more confident and creative?
Author Mary-Elaine Jacobsen writes about the experience of being exceptional:
"To feel like an outsider, to constantly pressure yourself to hold back your gifts in order to fit in or avoid disapproval, to erroneously believe that you are overly sensitive, compulsively perfectionistic, and blindly driven, to live without knowing the basic truths about the core of your being – too often this is the life of Everyday Geniuses who have been kept in the dark about who they are and misinformed about their differences.
Career mentor Valerie Young notes You're especially prone to the Expert Trap if you mistakenly believe that competence and expertise are one and the same.
Douglas Eby's insight:
Dr. Young is an expert on impostor syndrome and commented in an Entrepreneur magazine article: “Millions of people, from entrepreneurs to celebrities, have a hard time internalizing their accomplishments.”
"One of the frequent sources of anxiety mentioned by clients in my specialty psychotherapy practice of working with intellectually gifted individuals is the fear of obliteration of consciousness at death.
"To them, Being and Nothingness is not just a thick book by Jean Paul Sartre. As a concept, it presents a nagging source of panic attacks for some, of restless nights for others."
Books by multiple authors on growing up gifted, and being an exceptional, gifted and creative adult.
Scott Barry Kaufman, PhD writes in his book "Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined": “In every way, and at every turn, I seemed out of sync with my peers. I was living in my own head, and consequently people treated me like I was disabled.” … “What is talent, really? Everyone throws the term around like they know what it means."
When perfectionism interferes with productive achievement and a happy lifestyle, it is a social and an emotional problem.
“I was at dance school doing about 35 hours practice a week until I was 14. Then ballet started to grate – the whole idea of trying to attain perfection started to ruin the experience.”Mia Wasikowska (Photo from “Alice in Wonderland.”)
Lupita Nyong'o, Jennifer Lawrence and many other highly talented actors are acclaimed for their intensity. An interviewer wrote: "All throughout our lunch, the part of Lawrence that never let up was a kind of intense engagement with the world or the person in front of her."
A personality trait that may often accompany high sensitivity (experienced by many, or most, gifted and creative people) is high intensity.
The authors of the largest ever study of the profoundly gifted question whether the education system is providing enough support for highly talented young people. The US study, published in the journal Psychological Science, ...
"When I was little I was labelled Gifted. There's such residual confusion mixed up with that phrase. I'm not bragging (there's nothing to brag about).
"What I realize now is that I wasn’t technically bored with the subject matter, I was apalled by the purpose. I could sense I was being groomed for a profession. Suddenly everyone’s focus, if not on getting drunk or laid, was the requirement that we pick a college and a major and a career.
"I’ve been suffering a perpetual mid-life crisis since I was 15."
Being exceptional may cause a variety of reactions; some of those responses are supportive, but others can discourage or discount one's talents.
“I got that whole precocious thing [as a child]. I had no reason to doubt my own abilities or not share my opinion. The adults were offended, and the kids were resentful. I was persona non grata in both camps for quite a while.” Diane Lane
"I love the myth of the Jack of All Trades. Well, not exactly. I love to talk and teach about the myth of the Jack of All Trades Master of None, because I know that it is a myth.
"I love to watch what happens when someone realizes that Jack of All Trades is the new superhero — that being multipassionate and multitalented means that you can do incredible things, in large quantities."
Creative people are complex and multitalented. Along with the benefits of many abilities and passions, there are challenges in realizing so many interests. ..
In her post “Multipotentiality,” Tamara Fisher quotes Bryant (a pseudonym), a graduating senior who lists his possible future careers as “applied psychologist, scientific psychologist, college teacher, philosophy, mathematics, architect, engineer.”
Photo: Emma Watson said, "I want to be a Renaissance woman."
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