I wrote a children’s book. I went through the long process of getting my book illustrated and took the mondo (emotional and financial) leap to have it printed. I possess many hard copies of said book and yet I still ask myself the question, “Can I call myself an author yet?!”. Despite my progress and the number of books I have sold, I am still left thinking: Is someone going to notice that I only wrote one children’s book? Do I have to sell a certain number of copies in order to even call myself an author? If it’s only a children’s book and not an adult novel, does it even count? I could sit here all day and write down questions I have asked myself. I’m telling you these thoughts are not limited to me becoming an author. In fact, I feel similar thoughts in my day job. As it turns out, they have a term for it: Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where one feels like an inadequate fraud regardless of any proven achievements. Unfortunately, many women fall prey to this syndrome. I argue because we are taking on positions in companies that we have never had before. I told you that I was promoted after I returned from maternity leave. Twice. Regardless of my accomplishments I have still thought many times: Are they promoting me because I am female and they are trying to meet a quota? Are they promoting me just to show women that they can have a career here? Am I deserving of this or just in the right place at the right time?
I try to channel that negative energy and continue to go about my day working my ass off with hopes that my team appreciates me for being their boss. Maybe upper management is trying to meet a quota, but I will show them they made a damn good decision to put me in this position. Maybe they want me to be the face of women for the company, so I will be their helping hand. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time and maybe I don’t know everything, but I won’t sit here and pretend that I do. I will push forward, work hard, ask for help or explanations when I need it (even if it is from an intern!).
When I question the reason for my position I have to make a conscious effort to choose to believe I was put there for a reason. I know what I want to be and where I want to go, so I recognize my whole career is and will be a learning experience. Throughout my journey I have chosen to observe others, both superiors and peers, and done my best to learn from their (inter-) actions. In order to ensure that continue to grow, this requires me to constantly reflect after any similar situations. There may be a lot of things that I know I want to be, but there are many things I don’t want to be. For example, I do not appreciate it when a boss:
- asks a question to the group and every time responds, “that’s what I thought, just checking.”
- micromanages every process and project that comes across their desk
- thinks their way is the only way
- is unapproachable and doesn’t take constructive feedback
- takes credit for the work of others
These are only a few examples of things I have learned over the years and I make daily choices not to be like this. Some days I fail, others I succeed. Whatever happens I always have to remember: I am a work in progress and, in order to be the best boss I can be, I need to continue learning. This means I can’t know everything, I have to come to terms with my shortcomings, I should solicit help where needed and, most importantly, be open to constructive feedback (even if it is from an intern!).
I don’t know any or all of the things my team appreciates about me, but I can tell you that their smiles and words of affirmation warm my heart every time I experience them. I may not be the best boss I can ever be, but I have to recognize that someone believed in me enough to put me into this position. I know, as long as I continue to learn, I will head down the path of bettering myself each and every day.
If you are wondering whether or not you have a right to be in the position you are in, don’t suffer in silence thinking you are a fraud. Turn every negative question you are asking yourself into something positive. Whether you need to go back to that job description and write down all of your accomplishments to prove to yourself that you deserve the job or hold that children’s book in your hand to truly realize your successes, do it. You are deserving. You are in that position for a reason. I would encourage you to hold your head high and go kick some ass!