Saturday, December 14, 2002

The Impostor Syndrome, or Another Pity Party


Still feeling quite down about school, feeling like my ideas are trash. At times like this I have outlandish thoughts, like . . . what would I do if I weren't in this program? If I left after this semester? Would my professors and the field of rhetoric in general heave a collective sigh of relief? I've been trying to think about what it is I'm good at with regard to academia. I've only been able to come up with three things: first, I'm good about getting excited about what I'm interested in. If I'm writing a paper about something, you can bet I have some level of passion about the topic, and I can muster up enthusiasm and curiosity about almost anything. Second, I'm pretty good at presentations. I've often been complimented (and shushed, although I hate that) on my strong, clear voice. I've got the fifth canon of rhetoric--delivery--nailed down. I can put vocal emphasis on my most important points in such a way that I communicate them somewhat effectively. As a result, I don't put people to sleep during my presentations, and they usually have lots of questions and/or comments that strongly agree or strongly disagree with what I've said. Finally, I am good at schmoozing with people and making an impression on them so that they remember my name. Those are my skills, right there. Not writing, researching, or thinking . . . not those fundamentals that make one's scholarship solid. What if I were to become a motivational speaker? A (gasp!) corporate trainer? I feel like what I'm doing right now is perceived as nothing but dross, as sophistry. And I don't want that to be the case.