Girl, do you have Imposter Syndrome?
In a world where we can immediately google the symptoms of any physical illness, how do you know if you're suffering from Imposter Syndrome?
When I first sat down to write what would be my first story for She & Co, it was ironic that the topic I chose was the dreaded Imposter Syndrome given that I'm a young (ish) woman plagued with self doubt when it comes to my writing skills. A professional writer and content creator since finishing University in 2011, I'm still waiting for the 'Ah-hah! You don't know what you're doing!' moment when all is revealed and I'm exposed as a superficial writer with no actual substance who still doesn't fully understand the independent clause. Awks.
I had been so excited to start planning this article and had visions of sitting down in some trendy café on the Belmont road bright and early with my chic white laptop and over-sized hipster glasses as I crafted a beautiful article while sipping on a hazelnut milk coffee like a boss. This was when I would uncover my true potential as a writer which would lead to untold success and many accolades from the writing community in Northern Ireland. (Thank you, thank you, fellow peers!) Needless to say, I got off to a rocky start.
As I work a full-time (and full-on) job, I decided to wait until Saturday morning to begin writing, convincing myself that I would arise fresh faced and ready to greet the day. Saturday morning came and with it a sense of dread. Gone was my excitement and anticipation at writing something more interesting than I write at work where I mostly write fluff. Instead, I found myself plagued with self doubt at the prospect of laying myself bare. 'No one gives a toss what I have to say'. My thoughts are not valuable or vaguely interesting and this online project is doomed to crash and burn and I'd be a failure. Queue hyperventilating. Yet again here is another thing I was rubbish at along with managing my finances or remembering to put out the recycling. Who do I think I am tackling something like this? I'm not good enough.
I'm not alone in feeling this way. Why as women do we continually doubt our abilities and feel like frauds? More and more women are plagued by Imposter Syndrome and feel they're not good enough to be at the point they're at in life, waiting for professional inadequacies to be unearthed and exposed in a full boardroom surrounded by accusing eyes. Do they know? Can they tell I'm secretly terrible at my job. Am I a fake or is it just self doubt?
I am currently (for as long as I can remember) suffering from Imposter Syndrome. The constant nuisance of the female professional or creative. Continually fearing being exposed as a FRAUD.
This constant fear of being dramatically revealed as being not as intelligent as you portray yourself, not as accomplished or competent in your work plagues dozens of high achieving women across the world. From all-round awesome females Emma Watson, Kate Winslet to Maya Angelou.
As a writer, I usually flit between a smug sense of self confidence in the work that I produce ('I am an unstoppable literary force! Read my awesome words!) to the crushing feelings that everything I do is inherently rubbish (Don't look at me!). Surviving and conquering Imposter Syndrome comes down to confidence and developing a sense of self worth and belief in one's abilities. Women are notorious for undervaluing themselves and often create a flawed and inaccurate picture of our careers putting triumphs and successes down to sheer luck or 'right place, right time' rather than hard work and natural talent.
As professional or creative women, we have to learn that it's OK not to feel OK and figure out how to deal with this sense of discomfort without letting it be to our detriment. It's about looking at things with common sense and making a conscious effort to identify your value and recognise the value of what you bring to the party. Party on girl.