I am, actually, an impostor, having no qualifications at all in computers. I have to beg friends with PhD's to explain complicated papers to me, since I literally don't understand the notation, even. I am - sort of - comfortable in my impostor-ness, though. I know I'm good at some stuff, and bad at other stuff. I know that the Dunning-Kruger effect works both ways, and I need to keep a weather eye on ensuring I know when I don't know something, as well as knowing when I really do. Doesn't stop me feeling like a total fake sometimes. But I am one, at least in part, so I don't feel that bad about it.
But since I haven't got any great stories, I'll instead tell you this one, because it's the best story about impostor syndrome ever, and it is actually true.
So this guy's gone to a conference, filled with the great and good. There's dozens of world-class scientists, artists, engineers, and so on - people who have actually done something - and he feels totally out of place. On the second or third night, there's a social evening, and he's hanging out near the back of the room, and gets talking to an older man he finds himself next to. They happen to share a first name, so that provides the ice-breaker, and they chat about the event they've found themselves in.
"I just look at all these people," says the elderly gentleman, "and I think, what the heck am I doing here? I just went where I was sent."
And the guy - Neil Gaiman - replies to him, "Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something."
Picture of Neil Armstrong, Neal Stephenson, and Neil Gaiman at said gathering: journal.neilgaiman.com/2012/08/nei...
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