So I wouldn't just usually use this as a place to talk about feelings, or about anything outside of design as such, but to be honest I think this is something that most people experience in some way. I've been thinking about this topic a little bit, due to this awesome experience that I have been going through. I want to start by saying this, Be Original and all of the companies I have been visiting have been so wonderful and these are completely to do with my own psyche rather than how anyone else has made me feel. The reason I wanted to take some time to talk about it is because this experience has actually helped me think about it in a different way.
If you don't know what imposter syndrome is, it's that feeling that you don't deserve to be somewhere, that you need permission to do something, or that you are generally some kind of fraud. Some people feel this way worse than others, and some people have legitimate reasons, backed up by societal pressures to feel that way. Honestly, being a straight, white male from a middle-class background I have less of those legitimate reasons, I feel like, but still tend to get this feeling of not being good enough, or not being acceptable, if that makes sense. Funnily enough, I don't get this when talking to important people as such, I'm totally cool seeing someone as a person—even if they are a CEO or someone I've wanted to meet for a while. I do, on the other hand, feel this really heavily when I step into a showroom.
Maybe it's being surrounded by items which are worth thousands of dollars, maybe its more of a personal ecconomic thing—I know i don't have the money to afford pretty much anything that someone might be selling in that environment. In this context, this experience has been amazing because It's actually allowed me to be more confident. Walking into a showroom and legitimately having a reason to be there and for the owner or someone super important within the company to spend 1-2 hours talking with you is a huge deal. I honestly feel that now, I would feel way more empowered in that environment. That I could walk into a showroom and be honest with someone to say, "look its a near impossibility you'll sell me anything today but I might buy something in the future. Tell me why the first awesome, original and quality product I buy when I become an adult, should be yours. If you have someone who might actually buy from you, or you're super busy right now feel free to blow me off, but if not, I'd love to have a chat with you and learn about the stuff in here." Who knows how they would respond (I have visions of being guided out onto the street with a broom), but I have to be pretty thankful that this experience has made me able to frame that. Not everyone who works at these places is a designer, but most will have a pretty solid interest in something around it and every one that I have met have been excited to talk about their brand, company history and products. Also, they're people—get into a good conversation with them and they'll feel totally cool standing around to chat.
I also experienced this in a totally different context, when I had the good fortune to work on an Emeco chair (specifically grinding and sanding) recently. All of the workers in the workshop were totally cool working on these hugely iconic and famous pieces, and I couldn't help thinking that it was strange. Yes I'm a student, but I'm studying industrial design—jumping on to something like that should feel cool and somewhat natural. Instead I felt worried I would fuck up all these peoples work and destroy a perfectly good chair. It was a strange mix of the jitters, which seems somewhat understandable, and reluctance. I actually loved it, and everyone was super encouraging whilst it was happening, but I could help but notice that feeling and reflect on it later. I guess the thing that I want to emphasize that I got from my time at Emeco is that, that the jitters feeling is totally about experience—the more you have, the less you'll feel it. More importantly though, attention to detail and craft: treat everything you make like it sells for $600. Frame your school projects like this, and your attention to detail and craft should go through the roof. When I thought of this, I wondered why this isn't something I have been taught. If design is all about the person interacting or using what ever it is you made, (not looking at it from a dollar-value perspective) every thing you create should value commanding their attention or interaction. It sounds stupid, but if people are going to be incredibly respectful using and touching your "thing", make it worth that respect.
Ok. Mind-vomit over. I don't know that it ended up really dealing with the imposter syndrome thing, but I know I got some interesting things out of it for me and hopefully they can help others too. If you actually want to read more, this article from the New York TImes is very funny and interesting.