Page 28 - Network Magazine Summer 2019
P. 28

            Women and
Imposter
Syndrome
AMY DAWS, FOUNDER YOU SAY TOMATO LLC
It can creep up unsuspected like a distant ache in your gut, like dread in the face of an insurmountable obstacle, or like the paralysis of doing everything except the one thing you know you were meant to do.
Imposter Syndrome. That sense that you are not up to the task, that they promoted the wrong person and will soon discover their error. Or, if you are self-employed, the struggle to put a dollar amount on your time and convince potential clients you are worth it. The pain of “marketing” one’s services while inhabiting the same body that was once a child: the one who skinned her knees, and who cried when she couldn’t break open the piñata at her own birthday party. Now, she is a Human Resources Direc- tor, a Family Therapist, a Department Manager. And you know that girl is still in there somewhere.
In addition to seeing our own past or present weak- nesses, many of us fear seeming disingenuous offering our services to people within our network with whom we have collaborated in the past. We do not want a friend or former colleague to feel used, or like we are selling to them. To flip our mindset to see that we offer something that will benefit them far beyond the dollar cost, we need to realize the value of what we bring. This is easily done intellectually, but to bring that knowledge to the heart often requires time in conversation with a neutral party who is trained to help you change the underlying beliefs that feed the mindset.
While Imposter Syndrome is not unique to women, we seem to experience it more. In London, England when I was first promoted to HR Director, I called my mom stateside to tell her the news. Her first comment was, “Do you think you can do it?” I was bilingual, well-educated, experienced, and living in my third European country of
residence. But her question threw me off balance for a split-second as I wondered how to answer.
When I relayed this story over the years to other female friends, they identified with the feeling and shared similar tales of their own. In some cases, our beloved mothers unwittingly transferred their self-doubt onto us. Many of us did not realize this had happened until our 30s or 40s, when we got a renewed energy for stepping into our bigness.
One of the barriers to self-actualizing in this way is con- cealing our vulnerabilities. Sometimes when we try to explore how we might step outside our comfort zone or reach for the stars, we mention it to the wrong person, who shoots us down in the blink of an eye. They speak out of their own narrow view of self, lumbering you with their own set of perceived limitations, their own shoulds, musts, and can’ts. The result is that we clam up, unable to state out loud the thing that holds us back. Yet, saying it out loud and looking it full in the face may be the key to disarming it.
Another dynamic that may leave women bewildered is that many (not all of course) are big enough people to see and praise others’ giftedness. We are confident enough
26 NETWORK MAGAZINETM
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