Let’s talk about impostor syndrome.

Somehow, I’m back in the Netherlands and I’m being told my degree isn’t valid. It appears I never passed all my courses. I have to retake a huge number of exams next week. I haven’t followed any classes and I don’t have the study material either. I’ve been caught out. See, I wasn’t qualified to do the job I have now after all…I’m never going to pass these exams. What do I do now?

I wake up.

I have this recurring dream. It pops up every time I have a big challenge ahead of me at work. It’s not that I believe I’m bad at my job. It’s just that with every new challenge I’m being given, I wonder if this is where my capability ends. Is this the moment I’ve been promoted into incompetence? Is this where they find out they hired someone who’s not as capable as I made them believe?

While doing some research for our SWIB network (Supporting women in business) I found out that 70% of people, not just women; PEOPLE, suffer from impostor syndrome to some extent.

So many people I perceive as being very capable or very confident have shared stories with me on how they suffer from “The Syndrome”. Whenever I mention the term, I get an instant bulk of examples on when and how people experience it. Whether it is on customer calls, with presenting in front of big groups, applying for a job, being praised for being good at your job, or getting a promotion: it crops up.

It can be quite situational. If you experience a form of impostor syndrome, it doesn’t mean you have to feel it in every aspect of your life. For me, it mostly applies to the seniority level of my job. I cringe when I refer to “leadership” and “career advice” when writing blogs. Even though I’m responsible for a big group of people and I have some achievements under my belt that should convince me I don’t suck at my job and I deserve to be where I am. I feel awkward when being asked to mentor people. What do I have to offer that is going to help you in your career? I feel like I’m winging it half of the time! Oh, and then the blog: who am I to think I should be sharing my opinions on these subjects with you?

However, if you ask me to speak up in a big group of people or present to a big audience, I won’t bet an eyelid. I feel confident and comfortable in these situations. Seems pretty contradictory. Weird how your mind can play tricks on you, right?

Fortunately, feeling insecure has never held me back from trying or doing things anyway. I do believe that if you don’t address it, it can really get in your way and hold you back.

I’m no expert in dealing with impostor syndrome. From what I understand you can’t get rid of it, but you CAN learn to deal with it.

From my experience, talking to other people about it seems to be quite helpful. It shows you’re not alone. According to the stats, we live in a world full of self-acclaimed impostors!  

What is your experience with impostor syndrome? How do you deal with it? Does it hold you back?

If you’ve never heard of impostor iyndrome, the below Ted video explains it in a couple of minutes:

Valerie Young is an expert on the topic. She even has a website called impostorsyndrome.com

*for the language terrorists amongst us: Impostor or Imposter are both correct. The Latin root is impostorem, “impose upon or deceive.”

Books that might help you deal with imposter syndrome:

Feel the fear and do it anyway; Susan Jeffers

The Subtle art of not giving a f*ck; Mark Manson

You’re a Badass; Jen Sincero

Testing the waters…

The last time I posted a blog was on the 15th of November 2017. It was an update on the outcome of my job hunt; had I really found a job to love? After that heads-up, I got caught up in the day job and also, I didn’t really know what to write about anymore, since my mission was accomplished.

Lately, I’ve been regaining that itch to write and I’ve even been playing around with the idea of writing a book. Now that’s big. And scary.

This is where the ever-lingering Imposter syndrome comes in. I don’t really believe I’m accomplished enough to write a successful book and I’m not sure people would actually want to read anything I write. I will definitely spend a blog on to that subject at some point.

However, there is so much I want to write about, which is why I’m not going to let that voice in the back of my head hold me back. I decided to try and test the waters with a new blog.

Simon Sinek teaches us to start with why. I just shared why I’m starting this blog. But why would you be reading this blog?

This blog will cover growth, development, feedback, insecurities, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, resilience and people. I hope the topics I’ll bring to the table make you think about you and how you deal with challenges, people and life, just as they make me think about those things and drive me to try to be and do better, every day.

I’m not a well-established CEO from Silicon Valley. I do work for a FTSE 250 company that ranks in the top 5 of Glassdoor and Great Place to work and I like to think I’m learning things at this company that are worth sharing. I’m still growing, developing, learning and I enjoy sharing what I learn.