Fish In The Field

It's pronounced "ghoti"

Slacker Syndrome: The new Imposter Syndrome

On the one hand I am a pretty confident person. I know that I am good at what I do – whether it’s at the lab or the field or at my other job (making those ends meet) at the academic library. I have other people tell me that I am really good at what I do. I know that. I do.

On the other hand I have been looking at post-doc positions and research job positions, I have been looking at other people’s CVs who currently hold positions that I want to hold. I look at these things and I hate myself. I am not prepared. I am awesome and smart and creative and I have nothing to show for it all. At least not yet.

I don’t have publications (yet).
I don’t have any significant grant wins (yet).
I haven’t taught anything.
I haven’t led workshops at conferences.

My CV. It sucks.

Sort of.


I have a lot of other things going for me. But when I look at other people’s work I can’t help but feel that I have totally and fatally neglected several aspects of my professional life. I look at opportunities I want to apply to and can’t help but notice all these weak points that employers are obviously going to notice.

Ugh. It’s like a weird kind of Imposter Syndrome now that I’ve gotten myself past the Imposter Syndrome part of my degree. Like I’m not an imposter, but instead I’m a slacker. That’s right: in my mind I can be finishing my PhD, organizing a conference, holding two jobs, regularly run distance races, and have somehow successfully maintained family and friend relationships, and I am a slacker. It’s stupid, but just in the same way I knew in the back of my head that Imposter Syndrome wasn’t true (but still leads to crippling moments of self-doubt and awfulness), Slacker Syndrome is killing any motivation I ever had to apply to real jobs and post-doc opportunities. At the moment all I want to do is to apply to positions more suited to current undergrads, or go get my guide license and take people fishing for a living.

I think one of the main contributors to all this is that I work in a small, fairly isolated lab and go to a small, distance-based doctoral program. I have had little to compare my progress to. No one to really compete against. I am, at times, almost ridiculously competitive. But you know what, more often than not it helps me get ahead. I have no problem with being competitive. So with no one to gauge my work against the last couple years I am not terrified that it means I haven’t been doing nearly enough and now I am unprepared. That’s the worst part of Slacker Syndrome: I have no idea if its true.

But at least if it is, it probably means that I will use the next several months before defending on overcompensating and doing everything possible to catch up.


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This entry was posted on February 3, 2014 by in Don't be a hater, Exhaustion, Futures, In my head, Vicious Cycle.
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