Facing Down Impostor Syndrome: If They Belong, So Do You.
I recently was faced with a dilemma. I had to write a resume for a class project, and more than anything in the world, it showed me the depth of my self doubt, as well as the plague of insecurity I have in myself, and my work.
Maybe you've been there.
You are writing a resume for a job search, and as you carefully craft your descriptions and experiences, you start to feel your anxiety levels increase. This, of course, naturally leads to endless self-questioning:
"Am I lying when I say that I am proficient in Adobe Illustrator?""Does my experience volunteering at that non-profit really qualify as work experience?""Do I have the ability to back up all of my claims?"
"Should I alter my skills portion, as not to raise expectations, and disappoint my employer later?
These are questions I always circle back to. Maybe its impostor syndrome, maybe its just fear manifesting itself under that guise, but either way, it is detrimental to not only myself, but those who depend on me.
I'm not suggesting that you can fabricate confidence where there is not competence. Competence is key and I'm convinced that without it, blind, unfounded confidence will lead to eventual disaster (look at our president for confidence without competence). But, if there is something that you are competent at, confidence must follow, or progress will stall.
I did not learn many things from my uncle. He was a rather hateful man that once hinted that I might be going to hell for having tattoos, but one thing (and perhaps the only thing) that I admired about him was his unwavering work ethic.
He was educated enough to get his foot in the door at certain places, but probably not enough to guarantee success anywhere. Instead of giving up on his dream to open his on business, he set up a list of small attainable goals and then pursued them daily.
He now runs a company that services million-dollar clients. I once interned with him briefly and found out that his secret to success was simple.
He said, "I saw that other people had accomplished something that I wanted, and I knew that those people breathed the same air as me, had the same blood as me, and lived in the same world as me. There's nothing that they could do that I couldn't do it. I just had to figure out how to do it, and I did."
He might be ignorant, but his statement in that moment resonated with me and from time to time I refer back to it. The point of this post is to hopefully re-package it to encourage those reading as well.
What is your goal?
Do you want to write a novel? Do you want to start teaching? Do you want to graduate college? Do you want your dream job? Do you want to move up in your company, or even start your own company?
Decide what it is you want. When you have that goal clearly envisioned, look to see who else has already accomplished it.
Who are the people that have written novels? Who are the teachers that inspired you personally? Who are the college graduates that you've seen, or maybe that you are friends with? Who has that dream job that you want, and how did they get there? Who that you've met started their own business?
What you'll most likely find out is that the people that have done these things are not so much different than you. You are likely to find that some of them had advantages that you don't possess. you are also just as likely to find others faced disadvantages that you are free of. Either way, as my uncle said, if they can do it, so can you.
Imagine the novel you'd write if you only believed that you could do it. Imagine the students you'd impact as a teacher. Imagine the feeling of walking across that stage at graduation. Imagine landing that dream job and changing your life forever. Imagine the sense of accomplishment the day your business earns its first dollar.
All of the things you want are possible, but you have to stop being your own barrier.
As I finish my resume this morning, I think about where I'm heading. I feel uneasy and still lack confidence, but at the root of who I am, my uncle's words motivate me.
I am as capable as anyone that has the job I want. They are just like me, human. If they belong, so do I-- as long as I'm willing to sacrifice and work hard to be there.
Friends, push forward.