Is it Impostor Syndrome or Just ADHD Reality?

Another interview, another scrunching up my face in horror at something all too honest that I say as I’m asked about my experience and weaknesses. But let’s be real – if I were a hiring manager for most of these jobs I would not hire me. The few that don’t see this during the interview process – the only ones who would ever offer me an opportunity – are inexperienced in hiring or somehow unable to see the truth. It’s not just impostor syndrome, I’m just not that intelligent or reliable. Occasionally I have a brilliant idea and execute well, but most of the time I just get super anxious and waste time because I’m too scared to make decisions. Sometimes I come to work late because I’m depressed and have trouble getting out of bed. I can’t multi-task because having too many things to do at once and too many decisions to make equals one very stressed out and unproductive me. This thread really says it all.

So how am I supposed to convince anyone to hire me? I just look around at all of my peers in the business world and most of them just have their shit together. Some are really smart and able to get stuff done like superheros. Others are just able to execute really well, communicate goals and exceed them. All of this, others say, one can learn to do. Anyone can be on top of their shit. Anyone can learn process and get stuff done. Anyone can make decisions, test ideas and pick the best ones to continue with. Anyone can do this – except I can’t. I just can’t.

I don’t know where to go from here. Even starter interviews for junior-level positions somehow seem to end with “you’re not experienced enough.” That is after 10 years in the workforce. I’m not making this up. And it’s true — I have such a smattering of experiences but no one solid skillset that fits any job description. Ultimately it doesn’t matter anyway because if I did get a job I’d just end up disappointing them. I really don’t know what to do.

I am fortunate in that I have a good amount of savings to survive on for a little while, but eventually I need to get a job. Junior level roles, if I could get one, often require more of the detail-oriented work that I’m bad at due to my ADHD. But senior level roles still require the ability to be detail-oriented and set bigger picture strategy while ensuring the day-to-day gets done.

Interviewing is awful. I’m sure it’s wonderful for people like my friend who are just so good at what they do and know it. Everyone who interviews him falls in hiring love because he’s just professionally perfect, from his Ivy degree to his experience and contributions to all his companies along the way. I’m happy for him, and for my other friends who are doing well professionally, but also jealous, jealous because that will never be me. I can maybe fake it for a month or two but it won’t last.

This is why I think I really should leave business… but I’m not sure what else out there I can do. I feel like somehow I have a bit of intelligence inside my crazy distracted head but that’s worthless with all of this anxiety and inability to execute. To whom this may concern, please don’t hire me, I’m a hot mess.


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  1. Taylor Lee says:

    Sounds to me like you need to (1) build up your skills and (2) stay away from jobs that have a management aspect (because they seem to stress you out a lot and may not jive quite the way you want with ADHD).

    (1) can be solved by self-learning, grad school, various boot camps (tons of these in the Bay).

    (2) means you might need to start looking outside of the startup community, where you’re not always getting a lot of direction or “people management”. Have you worked in a big firm before? Would you consider working in one now? Are you okay with the idea of getting a pay cut / lower earning ceiling in exchange for a more stable job situation?

    1. Joy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Hi Taylor. Thanks for your comment. I 100% agree. Re: 2 — most definitely, yes. I’m applying to many large company jobs. I’m just not qualified enough for them. I don’t get calls for the lower level positions because I have higher titles on my resume. I think I am going to need to reduce my salary expectations for the right opportunity, but I don’t want to reduce them too much because if I’m going to do a good job I deserve fair pay. In any case, I’m certainly applying around at all of the relevant big boys and hoping I get a bite from one of them. But, for example, on a call this morning one told me that it looks like I have 3-4 years relevant experience for a lower level role and they are talking to people more qualified than I am, so I feel a bit hopeless. Grad school might be the only way to go, but I hate investing in myself without the faith that in the end it will be worth it. I’d rather pay for someone ELSE to go to grad school.

  2. NZ Muse says:

    Ugh, I feel for you. I really do. My husband is back on the job hunt (we are a bit younger than you though) and it’s very hard as he also has a total smattering of work exp. Could be real valuable in the right role at the right kind of company but mostly people need specialisation. Unfortunately i think he needs to get in somewhere, suck it up and stick it out to get employable.

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