Impostors Unite Because There’s Cake

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?

Impostors Unite  #workingmother #inspiration #adminproblems
Go ahead. Click it. See where it takes you.

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”

  1. 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.
  2. 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.Impostors Unite  #workingmother #inspiration #adminproblems by @fillpraycloset #youdontknowme
  3. 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.

Side note:

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.

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18 thoughts on “Impostors Unite Because There’s Cake

  1. Yes to #2 – It is easy to see only a glimpse of someone else’s life and compare it to, when in reality,the only one your should compare yourself to is you.

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    1. And because we’re always looking outward, we forget to include ourselves in those we compare ourselves to, when that’s the only ones we should worry about.

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  2. I think i wanna meet you for salad. Soon. I’m a total imposter, at all of it.

    Never mind ‘not just’, I’m ‘not even’ and struggling with so many things of just…stupid-brain-ness. And totally judging myself for all of them.

    In fact, I might be falling off my perch sometime soon, and we’ll see what happens to all those people who saw fit to put me on a pedestal. Who knows.

    I’m glad your husband’s a smart cookie. And I’m glad you’re alright.

    Excuse the outburst. I’ll clear it up now and leave.

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    1. When we get together, it’s cake. Cake in a cup – ALL DAY. Between you and me, I feel like I fell of my perch this week. I’m still alive, you will be too. And when it happens, I won’t tell anyone – we’ll be too stuffed with cake to speak. xo

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      1. Sorry ’bout your perch, Salty. I hope you didn’t get hurt too bad. I’m not back on mine yet. Just sat on the floor in the dirt, looking at it and thinking it seems like a mighty long climb… *sigh*

        We will make cake in all the cups and laugh and cry and pretend none of it matters.

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      2. You’re a keeper. Thanks for being so understanding without really knowing. Not assuming that I’m full of crap and could really be going through something. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I wouldn’t ever dare to assume that. I’m too good at self-editing so that everything appears fine to remotely think that when someone *appears* fine (or not) that that’s the whole story.

        *hugs*

        Glad to be a keeper, anyway.

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      4. I dropped all my rainbows on the way into work
        I scuffed up my shoes and can’t remember the words
        I’ve got empty in my pockets and something on my mind
        Got my gaze on the ground in the hopes I might find
        That one little thing
        Just a tiny thing
        An any kind of thing
        To make it all worthwhile…

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  3. Aha! There’s a name for it! I remember sobbing on the phone to someone over the first “real job” offer I received – at almost twice the salary I was making at the time – because I was sure I’d overrepresented myself and wouldn’t be able to do the job. I was there 10 years. It worked out fine.

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  4. I’m always judging myself harshly. I say to God, “Why did you give me all of these children when I stink at it?” I’m studying and praying for change. Positive self talk just ain’t cutting it and I even have a hard time believing scripture that affirms me. It’s slow, but you mentioned defense mechanisms and that is just where He has taken me lately. So, I have asked him to show me, one at a time if possible, the ones that still exist and may be wreaking havoc on my present life.

    Once, I really needed a job that I could walk to since I sold my car to pay the rent. I sat in the interview at the bank with everything I had remembered from vocational school. The president looked at me, pointed to a stack of applications and said, “So, why should I hire you?” I took a bold step (seems goofy now) and said, “When you get done with this interview, you won’t need to look at any of them.” It was a crap shoot.

    Well, he said that he loved my spunk and hired me on the spot. Guess what? I’ll bet I wasn’t half as good as some of the other applicants. I made lots of mistakes too ~ with money! But, I was honest, reliable, friendly, loyal and I guess ~ spunky. (That’s probably a mechanism I’ll have to check into!) But those good qualities don’t come easily. Believe me, I saw lots of folks come and go over the years and good help is hard to find.

    Keeping you in prayer. xoxo

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    1. I feel ya, sister, about sucking at being a mother. I’ve resorted to telling my children that I’m lost when it comes to being a mother, so please be patient with me. I usually say it frustrated and in tears. Hugs from another stinky mother. 🙂

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  5. For years I was terrified someone would call me out on the carpet about my photography. I was terrified that a client would turn around and say, “You have no clue what you’re doing, do you?” I felt like an impostor for ages. Good to know I’m not the only one, and there is an actual name for it. I’m in good company — professional impostors. xo

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  6. There are so many fabulous one liners here that I don’t even know where to start talking about how much I love this.

    “Keep doin’ me” is perfect. When you said that, whatever tension I had in my chest that was screaming, “YES YES! I FEEL YOU!” subsided a little. I am so uncomfortable with praise. I love it when people connect with and like my book, but I also don’t really know how to take it. My book also makes me really vulnerable, so when people praise it, it’s just awkward for me. I don’t know.

    But I love the idea of an email collection where I put it away to look at later. That is a fabulous idea. Because there are some days when I’m literally TOTALLY convinced that I”m a fraud, or I achieved my means and success through luck or trying different things. Those are the days I could use that little sunshine, as you put it.

    Thank you! Loved this today. Needed it, as always.

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