Have you ever gotten a position, not just any ol’ position, but THE position you hoped and prayed for? Like hands and knees, head and shoulders, yes can’t forget the toes-prayed for, and then after successfully attaining it wondered if it was really yours? Or how about having a recurring tinge of doubt creep up and try to stifle the high from the congratulatory email for the scholarship, the acceptance letter, or the business opportunity you worked so incredibly hard to achieve? Now I know I’m going to sound like Brandy with the “Have you ever” but have- you- ee-ver experienced that pressing sense of inadequacy follows you from the conference room to the cubicle, to the corner office? I certainly have.
When I got hired for my first ever directorship position, a huge part of me was incredibly excited because I accomplished a feat that I always wanted and past superiors told me that they saw in me, but treated as if I couldn’t attain any time soon, being the youngest member of their team. Even as I was signing my official onboarding documents I couldn’t help but sign that dotted line like it was that pen’s sole purpose for creation, because I felt a teensy bit of fear steeped in wondering if I really belonged. Fast forward, and it’s been over a year in a “said” executive position. With that, I have learned in these past eighteen months that in order to have thrived in this environment and operate on the higher frequency that I needed to, I had to confront what I recognized to be “Imposter Syndrome”.
Imposter Syndrome is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” Now I could drop the metaphoric pen right there because after reading this definition I can think of so many instances where people, who in reality, did not legitimately earn a position, it is garnered by way of legacy, financial access, or some sort of privilege; have gotten to undeserved spaces and OWNED IT. So why do we, as young gifted and talented professional women, whether in the workforce or entrepreneurial in our own right, give credence to the idea that we don’t deserve what we legitimately earn? I’ll tell you why. Our Belief. Go back and read that definition again and you will see that.
You see, many of our belief systems have been built on and steeped in pervasive -isms: ageism; classism; colorism; sexism; racism to name only a few oppression-advancing agents. When any of the aforementioned is given permission to shape our self-perception, then we are prone to internally probing questions like:
- Was I really the most qualified candidate for this opportunity?
- Will I measure up to my peers and colleagues once I accept this opportunity?
- Do I have what it takes to truly succeed at this opportunity?
- Will people around me think I’m a fraud or that I don’t belong in that environment or particular work culture?
If any of these questions are answered in a self-diminishing way, it is most likely due to believing that you aren’t enough- smart enough, old enough, wealthy enough, light-skinned enough, or even “male” enough- for the job, experience, or opportunity. Get to the root of that disbelief and counter those questions by identifying what sparks the fear, doubt, and second-guessing. Many times it takes reminding yourself of what you do offer to help you reform and re-form the foundation with the right beliefs. I am a huge supporter of writing things down, making a list, and checking it twice. Sometimes committing our thoughts to paper, through journaling, for example, helps to confront and counteract what is felt and why it is felt.
A simple activity that you can do is listing your qualifications, attributes, accomplishments-no matter how small, even innate gifts (that people pay top dollar for if you really think about it) and all that you bring to the table so that you can remind yourself why you are that BAUCE woman for the job. This is extremely important in building the cornerstone of the confidence that the internalized -isms of life can remove, and will serve as your buffer when internal forces like doubt, or external forces such as colleagues, try to reinforce said –isms because we know that they are real and felt. I encourage you to bring that list to work, post that list at home, or review it in your phone or wherever it is written to give you that boost knowing that you deserve to be and thrive in that space until it is completely internalized.
Lastly, it is imperative to remember that you are deserving and worthy of whatever it is that you work to accomplish. When you make the effort to believe that, because it does take some work, your actions will mirror that and you can boldly ask those questions in the boardroom; affirm what you know in the conference call; and accept the compliments that you receive for your efforts, without doubt, or question.
I join you in affirming:
- You can do anything, because, in what I imagine to be my Issa Rae voice: “why the hell not?”
- You will do said opportunity, and do it well, even if you’re afraid to take the first few steps. The second and third will get easier. I assure you.
- You are all that your list proves that you are and can be.
You can! You will! You are that BAUCE! OWN IT!