In reality I am not. I know I deserve the success I have achieved. I’ve worked hard, I’ve pushed myself, I’m commited and a strength of mine is my self awareness and desire to improve and learn. Just writing that makes me cringe though; it makes me feel like someone will say “no this isn’t true, what on earth are you talking about”.
Have you heard of imposter syndrome? If not, let me paraphrase what the good old Internet says about it.
Impostor syndrome is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.
Ever since I can remember I have doubted my ability, I’ve always pitched myself at the bottom of the pack and secretly deep down have often believed it’s luck over ability that has got me to where I am. Now, don’t get me wrong, as I’ve got older and as I have continued to achieve success I have become better at recognising my own talents and skills but I still get moments of feeling like an imposter, as though I might be found out! This happens randomly, it can often happen if someone praises my work. In my head I can be thinking “oh god, one day this will all come crashing down around me, they will find me out, I’m a fraud!” I have no idea why I think this, 20 years into a HR career and it’s not happened yet!
Having the courage to set up my own business is a reflection that I now feel able to do this, I believe in myself more than ever before but I do have to keep the imposter in my head in check. Equally important though is my realisation that a lot of people feel how I feel from time to time and that is ok. It’s ok as long as you don’t let it impact on your achievements and success.
Recently I was chatting to a friend about the advice we would give to our younger selves. Mine was that I would tell myself to stop worrying, believe in myself and that I could do it, that I was worthy. You know what, that’s great advice and I would tell my younger self that over and over. I would also add that regardless of the journey you take to get to your goal it’s equally as valid as the next person’s. The reason I say that is because I know what my trigger has been for these feelings. It’s things like: making the decision to not go to uni, having a bog standard education, and socialising with people from different social backgrounds to myself. It’s those things that my younger self felt somehow inferior against.
Well 18 year old me, look at 38 year old me! You should be proud. You’re not an imposter and you did it. Here’s to the next 20 years…..
A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink – Gina Carey
Love Laura x