I don’t just blog. I don’t just mom and I don’t just wife. I also work, as in, a day job. It pays the bills and I am wholly grateful for that. Because, ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent. If you don’t get that reference, it’s official – I’m old.
There’s this thing that companies do called the “year end review” *cue scary violin music and creaky doors*. This is where you are supposed to meaningfully assess your strengths and areas of improvement since the last time you looked at yourself in the “work fun-house mirror”. I don’t keep a list of strengths even though I know this has to be done every year. When will I learn? I’m the kind of gal that loves and prefers self deprecating humor instead of the meaningful sell-yourself dialog that’s preferred. Think of it as the “I’ll make fun of myself before anyone else does” defense, just in case you don’t agree, we can all have a laugh! It’s been this way in every thing I have endeavored to undertake whether it be blogging, writing, singing, this great Mommy gig I got, everything.
Why do we do that? Why can’t we talk ourselves up? Why does it seem like we’re trying too hard? Is it just me?
Thing is, I’ve always felt like a fraud. Like at some point, someone is going to find out that my corporate career started by way of a random mistake. Then all the jobs thereafter were landed by way of smoke and mirror dancing done by, yours truly. Not to mention that I “came up” during a time when financial consulting was rollin’ in it (think House of Lies) and not because I was good at anything in particular. Rationally, I know that it’s me that kept me on that trajectory, jazz hands and all, but I’m not always rational – part of my charm.
My husband gets upset when I devalue my talents and make it the frame through which others see me. That’s a mouthful, and it took me a minute to understand what he was saying because I had a few glasses of wine at that point. The next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about that pearl of wisdom he tossed my way, and when I get to thinking, I research. Turns out, there’s a syndrome! (Of course there is) Class, take a seat, let’s see what I have.
According to Ann Friedman at Pacific Standard, I have what’s called the Impostor Syndrome. She writes:
It’s a phenomenon in which people—usually high-achieving professionals—don’t consider themselves qualified for their position and convince themselves that they’ve cheated their way into it. It doesn’t matter how much work they’ve put in or how much experience they’ve acquired.
When I read this, I kid you not, I heard angels singing Hallelujah. But that quickly stopped, because I thought, she knows I’m a fraud!!! As my mind raced I kept reading (I multitask) and saw there was a scale. A scale? The Impostorism Scale (Leary, Patton, Orlando, & Funk, 2000) I won’t post all the details here. Just my score. 26. I don’t know what that means. There are no results by which I can tell if I am knee deep in the syndrome or just, you know, pinky-toe’in it.
Here’s what I think I can do to change this the next time I have to look in the “work fun-house mirror”
- Email Collection: Every time I receive an email that says I did a great job, or how much fun someone had at an event, I’ll stick it in a folder (not the paper kind, come on, trees!). I don’t have to bask in it and get all narcissistic about it, but it will be helpful for those times when I have to pull out some sunshine, negotiate a raise or land a choice project.
- Stop comparing myself with others: Why? I don’t know them. I don’t know what they’ve been through. I’ve never seen their resumes. They may be suffering from Impostorism Syndrome like I am (support group in the cafeteria anyone?) The only person I should be comparing myself to is me. Me one year ago, 6 months ago, a week ago, the last post I published and 500 words I wrote. Why? Because that’s a person that I will always want to know and help to be the best person she can be. I’ve got a vested interest in me.
- Keep doin’ me: I don’t know if I’m meant to do this day job, ya know? I mean, I left it close to four years ago to stay at home with the chitlins, become a teacher and, I had to come back. Sacrifice ain’t just about choosing a salad when you want cake. I’m making the most of it though. I am wholly thankful for having a job and helping to support my family. But, To point #2, I have to keep trying to do the best I can in all areas. When that’s happening, I feel better about my contributions both at work and at home.
What I do now, is the same job I left years ago and was adamant I wouldn’t come back to. I had a meltdown on a NYC subway train, during morning rush hour, just a few weeks before I quit. My husband will tell you, it was raining and I was dressed in my usual black attire. I always dressed for a funeral in my last job. My last boss? She was like Miranda Priestly’s even more evil twin sister from The Devil Wears Prada. Thank God I don’t have that at my current job.
I remember my husband was wide eyed as he saw me unravel between sobs, and didn’t know what to expect. He kept ducking to look out of the window onto the changing platform, trying to time his “talk me off of a ledge” speech with how many stops were left before I had to get off the train. I wasn’t in love with my career anymore, it was time for us to break up. And maybe, that’s the problem.
When you take a professional inventory (professional Mommy’s count too), do you like what you see? How do you help talk yourself up? And if you think you have Impostor Syndrome, you probably do and you should totally meet me in the cafeteria for some
chocolate cake salad and camaraderie.