Researchers have shown that people aren’t good judges of their own performance and often tend to overrate their own abilities. Some people think they’re way better than they are, and their own sense of self-importance just oozes from every pore. You can probably think of people like that in an instant – whether it’s someone you personally know or a celebrity you know about. Take Dave Mustaine for example. But people can misjudge their abilities in the opposite way too.
A few days ago I was talking with someone who told me about imposter syndrome. It’s not exactly a recognized psychological disorder, but it’s something that researchers have studied and written about. It can be defined as a persistent feeling that you’re really not as good as other people think you are, that whatever success you’ve achieved isn’t really deserved, and that other people have just been deceived about you. Those feelings are accompanied by a fear that your lack of competence or talent will be found out and that you’ll be revealed as a fake and a fraud.
It’s more than low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem might actually be unsuccessful people. People with imposter feelings actually have achieved some success, but aren’t able to recognize and value their own achievement. And perversely, with each new success, the fear of being “found out” increases. I’m guessing there are people in some successful metal bands out there that suffer from those fears and who can’t enjoy their deserved success as a result. Poor bastards.