A lawyer friend recently told me of starting out in her profession, working with an accomplished female barrister whom she greatly admired, and being stunned to hear the barrister admit that she always gets nervous before walking into court to handle a case, as she feels she is not really ‘qualified’ and one day someone will figure that out.
The Imposter Syndrome is alive and well – even at barrister level. How do the rest of us stand a chance?
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we doubt our own abilities while we sit back and admire all of these smart people around us who seem so in control, so competent?
Dr. Valerie Young, author of ‘The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women’ writes that women are more likely to accredit their accomplishments to luck rather than skill, and even sabotage themselves by maintaining a low profile, withholding talents and opinions, and leaving projects unfinished.
In my mid-forties my desire to do something that was uniquely mine (even though I had no idea what that was) wrestled violently with my voice of reason telling me to sit down, shut up, and keep the status quo – and fortunately my strong-self won, once I flicked the inner swith.
What did I realise?
- That I was actually was very competent at a bunch of different things – things that I took for granted and assumed everyone could do easily.
- That it is possible to build an income and a life around the unique combination of what I do well.
- That it is normal to feel a bit shaky when going down a new path – like learning to drive – but confidence comes with time and effort, which brings pride and pleasure.
- That action leads to empowerment, not the other way around.
Bottom line – I set myself a deadline, figured out how to self-publish my first magazine – ‘Work from Home’ – found the people with the skills I needed, did lots of late nights, and busted my own myth that I was indeed a loser, unlike all of those amazing women I read about.
Sure I still get nervous when new things come along so, like the barrister, I ‘put on my robes’ and get on with the job.
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