Lupita Nyong’oBesides slaying everyone on the planet with her phenomenal beauty and style, Oscar nominee Lupita Nyong’o also gives great interviews. The Yale School of Drama graduate talked to StudioSystem News about the audition process for 12 Years of Slave and she brought up something that many people can relate to regardless of career path.

“I suffered from the imposter syndrome, where you work towards something and once it arrives you question whether you’re ready for it or not,” said Nyong’o about her feelings of uneasiness once she was offered the challenging 12 Years a Slave role.

Haven’t we all had a similar thought? Even though you got the degree, did the research, networked your butt off, worked weekends or whatever you did to get to that golden intersection of preparation and opportunity, you have still found yourself doubting yourself. Maybe you’re not really ready. Maybe you’re about to fall flat on your face. Maybe you’re not as good as everyone thinks you are. Maybe you’re a fraud.

And no I’m not a mind reader, I just know that lots of us have this thought process at some point. Consider it a rite of passage in a way. Having those thoughts generally means that you’ve reached a goal/threshold and now it’s your time to push through or let your doubt get the best of you. Hopefully you’ve chosen the former.

I’ve had those thoughts several times through out my two careers. As a young black woman, I was a rarity in the world of urban planning, my first profession.  I was frequently the only person of color and/or woman in “important” meetings.  More than a few times I was mistaken for an intern before I had even said a word.  I had a master’s degree in urban planning under my belt and I put in long hours of research to understand my projects, but I still suffered from that “imposter syndrome” now and again.  In the end, I always pushed through it though and did the work to the best of my ability.

Now, as a writer, I still get those pangs. I never went to journalism school, I didn’t decide to start writing full-time until my late 20s and there are people much younger than me who are far more experienced than me in this field. So over these past few years, whenever I snagged an editorial position, a byline in a publication I hold in high esteem or an interview with a celebrity I admire, there’s always a little blip of “Am I good enough?” I ask myself if I deserve it and then I do my best. That’s about all anyone can do.

Have you ever had a case of the “imposter syndrome?” How did/do you deal with it?

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.

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  • sankofa

    Ugh REALLY needed this today you just don’t understand. I’ve been having the WORST week and today cried in the corner like a child. I was thinking like maybe I should just go home and curl up in bed with bon-bons instead of running around in the cold for scholarships and classes. After my lil “moment of humanity” I decided to chin up and get ish done. Not everything has been going as planned, but I KNOW if I stay forthright it’ll work out.

  • Definitely! – and I was just second guessing myself this morning. Sometimes I think we’re afraid to actually be great.

  • I’ve experienced this recently. I really believe that what I’ve been seeking career-wise is about to come to fruition, but I had to ask myself was I really ready to finally take that next step forward, or do I want to continue to feel “safe” in this bubble of complacency I’ve been struggling to get out of since I graduated from college. I’m so ready to face my fears and be the best that I can be, so much so that it’s overweighing my feelings of uncertainty about the unknown. Thanks for this article!

  • listener

    I related a lot with this post. I’m an urban planner myself and I’ve faced many encounters where I was assumed to be the intern or summer worker rather than a person who had a legitimate place at the table. I’ve also started writing. And sometimes it’s hard to shake this crippling fear that I’ll be inadequate. But this has encouraged me. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anthony

    Although I think the message behind this thread is great, I just have to say that the more I see Lupita Nyong ‘o, the prettier she looks! That woman has an absolutely perfect face! Unless it’s for a character in a project, I hope I never see her with straight hair on her head. She is perfection!