Research has shown that some 70 percent of professionals go through a period of self-doubt at least once in their lives. The Imposter Syndrome describes the fear that your achievements would one day be revealed as merely a serendipitous sham.
“You need to get your confidence back,” my friend Drew said to me over coffee last week. “If this was a year ago and someone told you you sucked as a marketer, you’d have told them to fuck off.”
I am currently suffering from a crippling episode of confidence crisis. I’m working very hard to snap out of it.
Truth be told, I think this is the first time I’ve actually let the Imposter Syndrome get to me. There were times in the past where bosses, interviewers, or clients had questioned my abilities to do a job well. I have never allowed their comments to limit my view of myself. But a recent event (which I can’t really share here) left me chipped and I think I’ve lost a bit of my glimmer.
WHAT IS THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME?
The Imposter Syndrome was first described in the 1970s by clinical psychologists working at a women’s college. They noticed that a large proportion of the students felt nervous of their academic success and were worried of having their true capabilities exposed. Since then, it’s been found that men and women from all walks of life experience such feelings.
I never actually understood or fully appreciated what the Imposter Syndrome is — until recently. At first, it came as a nagging feeling that my work wasn’t being fully appreciated. No matter what I did, my efforts just didn’t seem to matter. Then it hit me like a wave because whenever I spoke of what it was that I’m doing, other people just came off as unimpressed. It was like they were saying, “Hit me with your best shot, Debs!” and I kept falling short.
WAS I JUST MERELY LUCKY?
Have I really been “just lucky” in my career?
Am I some delusional person who has failed to see how small and insignificant she really is?
Then Drew wrote this on his LinkedIn:
Perhaps he’s only saying these wonderful things because he’s my friend. But hey, you know what? We all need friends like this, and I’m fortunate to have one who believes I can achieve crazy shit.
FUCK OFF ALREADY
I have decided to tell this Imposter Syndrome demon to — pardon my French — fuck off.
I don’t deserve to feel lousy about my abilities at all. A long time ago, a founder of a dating service told me this, “Stop asking where can you find The One. Become The One someone is looking for.” Those words are the very antithesis of what I believe in. I will not bend or mould myself to be the person you want. I am the One, the Only, and the Best for you.
When someone suffers from the Imposter Syndrome, it always feels like they can never measure up. And, because they always feel like they are falling short, they end up finding excuses or creating situations that validate this belief.
No more, I say.
I was single and very available for a long time before I met my husband. For a while, I’d torment myself with questions like, “Why doesn’t this guy find me attractive?”, “What is it about me that this dude doesn’t like?”, “Exactly why am I not the right girl for him?”
One day, I snapped out of it. I looked at my life and told myself, “I have a great career, I got my own apartment before I was 30*, I am in the best shape of my life, I have friends, I have a great social life, I’m a fantastic person to date … I have everything I want in a guy. I am the person I want to date! I lack nothing and if a guy finds this unattractive, it’s his loss.”
I’ve been hit by a series of unfortunate events and, in the course of trying to wrench myself out of it, I caught the Imposter Syndrome. I don’t know if my recent failings have anything to do with this but, suffice to say, I’ve been feeling less than stellar, and every rejection I’ve gotten this month has made me want to hide under a duvet and never come out.
Let it be known now that I am proud of what I’ve achieved in my life. I never planned on a career in publishing and I got to become the editor of 2 great women’s titles. I never imagined myself as an entrepreneur and I bootstrapped a startup that lasted 4 years. I never imagined myself in tech and I found a way in and I still have not thrown in the towel.
If you are someone who’s thinking, “Debs is only so-so”, it’s too bad for you. It’s not that I’m not The One for you, it’s that you are not ready to handle the change and the impact I would have brought to your world.
I have been hit but I’m making damn sure I’m getting out in one piece.
*In Singapore, to be able to get a flat of your own at an affordable price, you have to get married. Or, you can wait till you are 35 to be allowed to buy a government flat from the resale market. To put money down for a private apartment, instead of just trying to get married was considered to be not the norm.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahtansuying on August 12, 2018.