08 Apr The imposter syndrome and women
Imposter syndrome is a real thing. Many women experience feelings of utter dread every single day.
I was raised by a single mother, a woman who was a career woman and climbed the corporate ladder to the top of her industry, and at the same time was the best mother a child could ask for. She was fierce, strong and never backed down in what she believed in, come to think of it, she’s still that way even in retirement. She is strong as all hell and my brother and I were raised to be strong people too, to forge our way in this world through hard work, kindness and determination. Then why, as a successful and accomplished adult, do I feel less than confident in everything that I do, whereas my brother has never had any issues when it comes to confidence or just believing that he is the best in his industry? In other words, why do I suffer from imposter syndrome and he doesn’t?
Imposter syndrome is a real thing…
…and apparently it affects women more than it does men. I started thinking about this again over the weekend when the topic was discussed on one of my favourite podcasts, The High Low. Dolly Alderton, co-host, recently wrote an essay on what she calls “the always in trouble syndrome” in women. It’s that constant feeling in the pit of our stomachs that some sort of catastrophe is inevitable, we’re always waiting for something bad to happen and feel like we’re about to be in trouble. I don’t know about you, but that resonated with me. I generally expect the worst and forever doubting my abilities even though I’ve proven myself over and over again. Why are we as women like this?
For years I thought that I was alone in feeling this way, feeling as if I was going to be exposed as incompetent at any point, like my career was a complete fluke and I just got lucky. Which, rationally, I know is complete hogwash. Opening up to other women about this made me realise that I wasn’t alone, that in fact, it is common. Even the phenomenal Maya Angelou suffered from it. She once said, “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find me out now.’”
Society to blame?
Is it the societal burdens that are imposed on women for as long as time existed? We are expected to fill so many roles and never drop a ball. I look around and not one woman that I know is only defined by one thing. We’re career women, partners, mothers, friends, daughters, aunts, home makers etc all rolled into one and the burden of perfection is thrust upon us in all these roles. Isn’t it time that we realise that being better at some than others are perfectly fine and that sometimes some will take priority over others? We’re all doing great and we should start every day by telling ourselves that. We’re doing our best.
Let’s raise the next generation of women to believe in themselves and accept that having flaws doesn’t mean they’re not perfect, that doing their best is the only thing that matters. I want the next generation to be relentlessly confident and comfortable in their own skin.