11 Feb Self-doubt and impostor syndrome in women
As a girl I thought that I would outgrow the feeling of being ‘less than’ and the self-doubt that always loomed.
I did not like being a child, it was not a fun time in my life. Mostly because I was an anxious child, and every situation was a stressful one. I was also odd in comparison to others and because of that was mocked, taunted and bullied for various reasons – too short, too skinny, knock-knees, ‘the girl with the strange surname’, a bouji lunch box, read too much, smiled too often (like wtaf?)…the list goes on and on. Having chronic allergies did not help either! Some moments still stand out in my memory when I think of my childhood, like a weird sort of PTSD. Children really are cruel and for stupid reasons. Being an empath, still am, meant that I felt everything, took every criticism on-board and instead of ‘growing a thick skin’, something I am still told, I started shrinking myself, moulding myself into the type of girl that was palatable to the world. The self-doubt and low confidence were real.
So, I grew up being a ‘nice woman’. People like nice women, the ones who don’t cause issues, go with the flow, don’t stand up for themselves and says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’; and ‘how high’. We do this to gain approval from those we deem to be superior to us, or in actual fact, those who treat us as inferiors (those are two different things entirely, fyi). We are desperate to be liked and get validation from all the wrong people. Add to that the every-day pressure of being a woman – we need to work twice as hard to be noticed, to get a seat at the table – and still be pleasant whilst doing it.
The consequences of being raised in an era that favoured that mindset are dire. We are a generation of women filled with self-doubt and constant burn-out. If we’re not working every single minute of every single day to prove ourselves we’re seen as ‘lazy’ or ‘slacking’, when in reality, if we don’t have some kind of balance, we will fail even harder and suffer from burn-out. Who started the glorification of busy, anyway? Personally, I doubt myself more often than I should. And let’s not even talk about impostor syndrome…
…hands up if you know that you are great at your job, have the experience, recognition from your peers; but yet, you feel like an impostor, as if you’ll be unmasked at any moment as a fraud! Logically, we know it’s absurd, but we can’t help but feel that way.
Like everyone, I’m a work in progress and I try to work on my short comings. One of the things I started doing is silencing that little voice in my head when it starts questioning my decisions and sowing those pesky seeds of doubt. She is a liar and I don’t need to listen to her. Another is to stand up for myself. Try it, it’ll change your life.
“Speak up even if your voice shakes” and all.
I now speak up instead of keeping it bottled in, even when it terrifies me…and it does. My mantra is “future Anne will thank you for this.”
Here’s to strong women! May we be them and may we raise them! Go out and be the woman your future self would be proud of.