Okay, enough with the word games; let's talk about something serious, and more directly related to the vita academica.
Several months ago, I refered obliquely to my fraud complex. Today, a poster on another site asked, "Is it just me?" I sent in a reply, but I thought I'd post it here, in the likely case that it doesn't appear at the original site:
No, you are not the only one to feel like a fraud. Nor am I -- I've talked to friends in academia, and most say the same thing -- although one male colleague opined that the tendency to feel like a fraud may fall predominantly along gendered lines. I've felt like a fraud ever since I was first accepted into a graduate program. I kept thinking that "When I get the M.A.," "When I get published..." "...get the Ph.D...." "...get a job..." (In case you're wondering: yes, I am now thinking "When I get tenure...") At every level, though, the stakes get higher, the peers more accomplished, and the expectations higher, so the fraud complex gets more acute, not less. Teaching makes us feel better, because we know that, once again, like in college, we're the smartest person in the room. But did we really get into this line of work to feel good about ourselves because we know more than a bunch of nineteen year-olds?
Sometimes I have to remind myself that feeling a bit ignorant is part and parcel of the non-teaching part of the job, which I got into to push back the boundaries of my own ignorance (that's ignorance -- not to be confused with stupidity). That doesn't ever stop; nor should it, because there's always more to learn. But I hope we all have those moments when we take stock of how far we've come. I hang on to those times when, every once in a while, I pull off that great presentation, publish in that respected journal, or get that big grant, and you realize that I do indeed know something. Not everything, but something.