Let's hack impostor syndrome: A discussion


Let’s talk impostor syndrome. Some of us know what it is, but I bet all of us are dealing with it at some level.

Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s a good working definition of impostor syndrome:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”

Among our community, we are typically very driven people. We try hard, knowledge is hard-won, and we challenge ourselves daily. Yet somehow, many of us feel like we are in a place where others will discover that we are a fraud. That we haven’t rightfully earned the position we are in.

With that, let’s open up the discussion: How do you see it in our community? In yourself? How do you deal with it?


(oaktree) #2

Posting what I said in IRC…

I hate to say it, but it’s because our society expects us all to work hard while simultaneously criticizing the best of us…

We fear “internalizing [our] accomplishments” in a too-good-to-be-true way; as if someone will call us out for producing something so good or, at least, above mediocre…



I think a large portion of why I feel like an impostor is due to the exclusivity of the hacker/security community. I feel like I’ve snuck in. I doubt myself and my abilities compared to most of the people I interact with inside cyber-sec/IT because I know there’s an enormous amount of knowledge I don’t have. I view the whole of the community as extremely knowledgeable and of myself as some kid trying to join to cool club. I don’t match my expectations of my peers. That’s why my name is skidd0. I feel like a skiddie around you guys.

My response has always been to keep learning all I can. I don’t try to hide my lack of knowledge, but I don’t show it either. Instead, I only do what I’m confident I can do. I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can learn to do.



Thats exactly what i think for myself as well.
I had a small conversation with @pry0cc about exactly this 2 or 3 days ago.
And still I’m happy to be here and soaking up every piece of knowledge I can find around here.



I think there are several facets to this issue.

  1. Like @oaktree mentioned, we are very critical of others in our profession. Take Tavis O for example: He’s the best and brightest among us, yet people constantly trash him every time he makes a disclosure. How are the rest of us mere mortals supposed to deal with that?

  2. We are most aware of our own faults, shortcomings, and lack of knowledge but don’t have that visibility into other people. We assume they know everything we know and then some (unless they actively prove us wrong or give us reason to doubt them).

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(oaktree) #6

Found in twitter feed today: