I have always suffered from this feeling that whatever I am doing is not enough and that I am an imposter who survives by mimicking others. After a while, everyone will recognize this and see what a loser I am.
I have had a chat with a lot of my friends about this and most of them think the same. There is this sense of inadequacy that makes you think about each and every step. That inner voice, that holds you and plays you a ‘failure reel’ whenever you are starting something.
One day, this question popped up in my mind whether people, who are at the top of their fields and have been there for a while, think the same. This was more of a consolation for me if they also went through the same thing (It has come to my notice that if you find that you are not alone in experiencing something, it makes that experience less painful).
I asked it on Quora and got a handful of responses. Here is the link if you want to see some of the answers.
The answers were surprising and all of them agreed to be a victim of this even to this date. Most of them think that the people around are doing much better than them. Talking about research, one said that whenever they read a paper, they always thought that it was impossible for them to come up with that idea and the other person must have been really smart to pull that off.
The answers also mentioned that after a while they realize that they are at the top for a reason. There is a reason other scientists are reading their work, appreciating and even citing them. Their contribution has not been lost in the sea but made a positive effect.
Also, we never think about what we are bringing to the table that the other person might not have. I think it is human nature to self-diminish one’s own skills.
This begs the question of whether this helps you in achieving something because you are afraid that you will be ratted out soon if you do not work hard or it constrains you in trying something risky which might have lead to better results.
It is always a good idea to look back a bit. You have not reached wherever you are by messing around. Do not let compliments to you go in vain. Do not let your achievements slide under the mat. Maybe this is a good way to fight that opposing inner voice.