Why imposter syndrome sucks

Why is it that when you feel like you could take on the world and finally start that project you’ve been meaning to get on with for ages, does the little voice in your head decide to pipe up?

“Are you really sure you want to do that?”

“What do I know about [insert topic of choice here]?”

“Clearly this isn’t going to work because you’re not clever/pretty/funny/smart/driven/ambitious enough to pull this off”

Yep I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point in our lives and its usually around the time when you want to make a big life change that the little voice inside your head decides to speak up.

Its never when you are working a job that you are clearly over qualified for and could do with your eyes shut. It doesn’t fancy vocalising its concerns when you choose to watch TV rather than creating work you are capable and proud of producing. It can’t even be bothered to raise its ugly head during that meeting when you have a fantastic idea but decide to sit tight whilst everyone else makes suggestions, apart from maybe to say “what do you know about this anyway” or “that’s a terrible idea”.

No Imposter Syndrome definitely sucks. And what is worst, it is holding many talented women back from pursuing amazing work and achievement in their lives.

Over the course of my entrepreneurial journey I have had the chance to meet with many inspiring, hardworking and ambitious women who have achieved a great many things, who have taken the bull by the horns and said sod off to doubt and done it anyway. Yet, the interesting thing is, they still all suffer with Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is defined as a concept that high achieving individuals aren’t able to internalise their achievements and are therefore forever scared to death that they will be ousted as a fraud.

And women are more likely to suffer from Imposter Syndrome than their male counterparts.

A friend of mine recently told me that she still freaked out every time she wrote her weekly blog even though after only a few shorts weeks she had made the homepage of Medium. When I asked her how she overcame that fear, she said “I have committed to publishing my post each week and even if I don’t know what to write about, I still sit down and write.” This attitude has seen her become an influencer on Medium and guest speaker at several Women in Tech events but yet she still sees herself as an imposter.

Speaking from personal experience, I have been asked to speak at events, judge other businesses and MBA competitions and have won several business awards. I have an immense amount of experience and knowledge about being a woman in tech and a young entrepreneur, but still I feel like an imposter. What do I know about starting a business? How to be successful? Who am I to offer advice at public speaking engagements?

BUT…

Nobody else feels that way. People come up to me after I’ve spoken and tell me what they’ve learnt from my talk. How my advice has helped them pivot their initial idea and turned it into something better. How its great to hear the gory details of the start-up world and not just the fairytale version. How they themselves suffer from imposter syndrome and how its holding them back from pursuing what they really want to do with their lives.

So I think its time to stop. We need to acknowledge Imposter Syndrome for what it is. A lie! A lie we tell ourselves to protect us. But rather than protect us, it hinders us. We stop doing the work we are capable of and want to pursue because our brain tells us that its scary, that we might get hurt, that people may laugh at us when we get found out. It stops us from being the person we want and are meant to be. We are told from an early age that lying is bad so why, as women, are we lying to ourselves? Lying about how brilliant we are? How talented we are? How clever we are? Because we are all those things and imagine how much more we could achieve if we stopped telling ourselves lies and believed in our capabilities instead. You are amazing and capable of doing anything you put your mind to.

So stop telling yourself lies, because you are not an imposter. You are a freaking amazing woman!