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Impostor Syndrome

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Impostor Syndrome

I had a rough start with my Koto.  I consider myself a good knitter, but this pattern is challenging me.  Nothing in it is too hard.  Not a complicated stitch pattern.  Shadow wrap short rows, which I know how to do.  The problem was in my understanding.  This is a very talented designer with a focus on details that make for a clean, professional-looking garment.  But for some reason the way she explained things, and the way I understood things, did not match up.  It wasn't until nearly a skein and a half into the short row section that I realized something was very much wrong.  I was going to run out of stitches before I'd completed the prescribed number of short rows.  Many hours of knitting needed to come out.  The ripping out was easy, but getting it started again? That was another matter entirely.

My high priority project sat on the table ready to be worked, but I couldn't do it.  I couldn't get started again.  I wasn't looking forward to retracing my steps, obviously, but it was more than that.  In truth, my confidence was a little shaken.  I'm the one who'll be teaching the class on this sweater, and I messed up.  Good lord.  How stupid am I? Cue the impostor syndrome music. 

Have you ever felt like that?  I think most of us have at some point.  Impostor syndrome is a feeling that plagues many accomplished people. Characterized by doubts about our abilities and achievement, impostor syndrome makes us feel like a fraud.  We wonder when everyone will find out that we don't actually know anything, and we don't deserve our success.  A mistake is fertile ground for that little voice of self doubt, because confidence, like trust, is hard won and easily lost.   

So how do we get past a bout of impostor syndrome?  In her TED ed video, Elizabeth Cox talks about how important it is to talk about our thoughts and experiences with others.  We often think that we're the only one struggling, but when we find out that everyone struggled, we don't feel so alone or so incompetent.  When I went back on Ravelry and read all of the comment on the projects tagged helpful, I saw that plenty of people had the exact same issue I did.   It was tremendously validating. 

Ms.Cox also talks about how we should collect the professional accolades we receive.  Women especially, tend to be humble and brush off what people about our work, but Cox says it's important to listen to and store away some of those genuine and sincere compliments.  Those words help bolster our confidence when we're experiencing self doubt.

And finally, we need to remember always to speak kindly to ourselves.  It is the voice in our head that speaks to us most loudly.  Make that voice as loving and compassionate.

I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here.  ~Ellen

Back to 2 July 2019 Newsletter