I have been researching some interesting articles on the term ‘imposter syndrome’. The feeling when you are sitting in a meeting and giving a presentation, you have captured everyone’s attention and you can’t help but feel like there is a big flashing arrow above your head saying ‘fraud’. This is deemed as ‘imposter syndrome’ and many successful women relate to this feeling. Sometimes we feel like if we succeed or do well that we will be caught out, that we have been exposed.
At first I thought this didn’t sound real, but the more I think about it, the more I can relate to it. Many of us don’t want to shout about our successes and actually say ‘yes! This is who I am and look at what I have achieved, without feeling the need to somehow apologise for it, or justify it by saying it was just luck.
An it seems we are not alone. Some very influential, successful women have been talking about ‘imposer syndrome’ including Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. She said: ‘‘There are still days when I wake up feeling like a fraud, not sure I should be where I am.’’ The actress and feminist Emma Watson has repeatedly admitted she feels like an imposter, as have Kate Winslet and Renée Zellweger.
Impostor syndrome has been studied by researchers for over three decades. One key characteristic of the syndrome is that, although impostors crave acknowledgement and praise for their accomplishments, they do not feel comfortable when they receive it. Instead, praise makes them feel anxious because, underneath, they secretly feel they do not deserve it. After all, they think, I'm just faking it—unlike everyone else here who seems to know what they're doing.
This research is incredibly timely as not only do we need to increase female confidence in the workplace, we need to ensure our next generation of female leaders don’t feel like they don’t belong in the boardroom either. According to reports published on www.bbc.co.uk, Girls are achieving more than ever before – they regularly outperform boys in the classroom and at university. Yet they still feel they don’t belong. A lot of these feelings and lack of self-belief all points to one thing – confidence.
So, how we combat this?
Ignore the little voice inside that tells you that you are not good enough. Imposter syndrome thrives on your self-criticism, so the more you talk yourself out of your skills or accomplishments, the more you become trapped in an “imposer cycle” - so close the door on it.
Thank those who helped you get to where you are, but ensure you take your credit as well. You did it and you deserve the praise and acknowledgement. Just like this blog, the key to beating ‘imposter syndrome’ is getting girls and women is to talk about it. Sharing stories and collaborating together is something we are very good at.
As well as my twenty year business career running a successful company with my brother, I am still spellbound by the engagement my Guilty Mother blog has brought me in just eight months. Over 10,000 people now follow my weekly blog and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. With so many mummy bloggers out there, I know I am in an overcrowded market place, but it won’t stop me writing. It spurs me on to do better. It’s in my nature. I love to express fun and positivity in my writing and if you like it, then hell yes to that and thumbs down to imposer syndrome.
So, no longer should we feel like imposters but hold our head up high, wearing our parachute pants, saying "yes! we have achieved - and we will continue to do so".