Impostor Syndrome

The first time I came across the phrase “impostor syndrome”, I was sat with my friend ‘D’ at university a couple of months ago. We were talking about how to get into the games industry, when he suddenly became pale and put in his earphones. Knowing he has an anxiety disorder, I left him to it – but after about five minutes of him meditating beside me, D came out of his episode and explained to me that he had suddenly had a strong feeling that he didn’t belong here – that he wasn’t good enough, that he was not meant to be a game designer. D called it “impostor syndrome”.

I had never heard the phrase before, but it is a real thing. It means just what it says – you feel that you are in a situation, usually a positive one, that you don’t feel worth of being in. In my friend’s case, at university studying to be a game artist. I have to say, I never felt that way about university – I recently failed, which is of course a huge waste of £10k student loans on top of the £30k I’m still paying back, but I never wanted to be a game designer. I wanted to be a developer. I really should have quit the course while I could have saved some money, but what kept me on was this idea that I SHOULD be able to complete the course.

I’ve been struggling for a little while with the fact that I am now rubbing shoulders with some big YouTubers. But this weekend at PlayExpo London, I experienced impostor syndrome properly for the first time.

Today, perched on the end of a long table in front of a big audience, I looked across to see myself seated with Guru Larry, Nostalgia Nerd, Daz of Did You Know Gaming, Kim Justice, Dan of Slopes Games Room, Stuart Ashen; and had a huge crippling realisation that I did not belong there.

Most of these people are now my dear friends, which is why it surprised me so much that I had such a crippling feeling of disconnection. I had only just met Daz the day before, and he’s bloody lovely, and of course the rest of them are close enough friends that they came to my small birthday gathering. But sitting there under those lights with the filming cameras on us, I suddenly became very aware of how tiny my channel is compared to theirs, and felt a little dizzy. That spinning feeling in the forefront of your brain you get when you stand at the base of a tall building and look up.

Because we were all sharing microphones, I had to pretty much sit in Stuart’s lap every time I had to answer a question – which I suppose didn’t help. I remember years and years ago I used to watch his videos during a really bad depression spell. Having to rest my arm, scarred with the self harm from around the time I discovered his videos, on his leg seemed incredibly surreal.

I had to leave right after the talk – my heart was bursting out of my chest. I know I need to learn how to deal with this if I want to continue in the YouTube world, but for the moment it’s all a bit much. I missed my anti anxiety medication yesterday which clearly hasn’t helped; but I’m going to have to really take a step back and learn how to punch this impostor syndrome right in its stupid face.


6 thoughts on “Impostor Syndrome

  1. Sometimes anxiety can manifest itself in weird and sometimes crippling ways! As one of your paTrons, fellow creator, long time sUpporter and fellow sufferer of the same blight i can tell you that it can be improved, but it takes a lot of time and Willingness to believe that you are good at what you do! If you wEren’t then you would not have people supporting you etc. Luckily my girlfriend is very supportive when i start developing the same behaviour, its ok to want some reassurance as its part and parcel of the wonderful umbrella of anxiety and depression. You are respected amongst your pEers so keep pushing forward. Fill your life with as much positive energy as possible! It can be done! 😊 keep doing what you dO, also being around your fellow youtubers will inspire and push your further!

  2. Are there any mirrors in your house? Do you not see the very attractive and intelligent young lady staring back at you in the reflection? Yes, all these people you associate with are very talented and charismatic; but they see the same qualities in you! Stop selling yourself short! You do belong in their world, and moreover, you can make a worthwhile contribution in your own inimitable style (although, I have noticed some stupid American girls donning cat ears on Twitch)!

  3. Just wanted to say I recently discovered your videos, and I have some experience of imposter syndrome.

    I was interested to see you had done Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties- but I thought “This will be fine, but surely she can’t have found anything to talk about which wasn’t covered by the mighty AVGN”. But, you did! I was astonished at how laughable and horrible that game (or should I say “game”) is.

    You earned your place on that panel, one hundred per cent. So please keep making videos.

  4. I recently found your youtube channel and can say you 100% belong there, you’re great in front of the camera and if “playing live” is harder, I hope you get the encouragement you need to go on. I’m a big nerd and retro fan and felt like you spoke directly to me. Had no idea Mr Biffo had a daughter!

  5. So here’s the thing the more specialized your skills, the further you get along a career line the more the following statement is true:
    “Nobody really knows what they’re doing, they’re all just making it up as they go along”

    I suffered from imposter syndrome for the first couple years out of college. What really helped me to get over it was to actively seek out perspective. I found a mentor at my company, I started talking to my manager and peers about how they got where they were, and what I found was what I said above… no one really knows what they’re doing… But if they’re good they’ve learned how to work around that. they’ve learned how to persevere in spite of the things in their way, They’ve learned to be resourceful, they’ve learned how to recover when they make a mistake, and they’ve learned how to take the bad outcomes of that mistake and turn them into an advantage (you don’t learn anything from success but there’s a whole lot of exciting and useful things to learn from failure)

    You’ve been pretty open in several of your videos about your situation. I can’t imagine that you haven’t gotten to this point in your life without learning how to be pretty tough and pretty resourceful. I’m also guessing that you didn’t take the stage at playExpo by force… someone wanted you to be there.

  6. You are where you need to be and you are amazing at it. Don’t doubt yourself…. I watched digitizer and you brought the best to that series… keep your chin up and keep doing what you are doing because you are really good at it. 😉 x

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