Graduate students and junior professors sometimes have this thing call “impostor syndrome.” It comes from the knowledge that, no matter how much work you do, there will always be something out there that you haven’t read, some new theoretical fad with which you aren’t familiar, some special issue to which you could contribute if you have the time, but you don’t. You constantly fear that you are going to be unmasked as inadequate, that you barely squeaked by on your comps or your defense or on the job market, but the next challenge is going to be your undoing.
In a sense, this sensation represents a healthy humility. But if you allow it to get too strong a hold on you, it can be paralyzing.
One of the strangest sensations for someone in the throws of imposter syndrome is to see their work referenced by other scholars. It is a shock to realize that someone actually read your work and even found it to be useful.
I had one of these pleasant shocks the other day when it came to my attention that fan-studies superstar Henry MF-ing Jenkins had cited one of my pieces! His book Textual Poachers inspired me to get started working on Internet Cultures in the first place!
I’m feeling revitalized and ready to forge ahead on my book prospectus now!