Week 6 – The Imposter Syndrome

Date: 07th May 2020
Days unemployed: 36
Days spent looking for a job: none
Days spent in isolation: 51 (7 weeks)

Certain things in life will cut you open like a knife. When that happens–at that exposing moment–the world gets a glimpse of what’s truly inside you. So what will be revealed when you’re sliced open by tension and pressure? Iron? Or air? Or bullshit?

Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way

What if I don’t come out of this lockdown/sabbatical a better person, with a plan for a career more aligned to my values? What if I come out of this exactly the same person that went in? What if I’m just full of air?

I’ve always thought I could do better, if I was in the right career/job/situation. It would appear that I may have grown up thinking I was special. I’m not sure how true this is but I know this piece from Tim Urban resonated when I read it a few years ago: Why Generation Y Are Unhappy.

As it stands, I’m not currently achieving anything special and I’m ok with this. Because I know I haven’t really given it a fair shot, yet. Everything I have today, I’ve worked for but I haven’t worked my ass off for them. Things just happened and I got lucky with a lot. What happens if I give it a proper go? What if I give everything to achieve something exceptional, aligned to my values, doing good for the world, and fail? Does that mean I’m not special after all?

You see, as long as I haven’t really tried, I haven’t really failed and I can live in the belief that my untapped potential is still… untapped. Waiting for the right time, the right opportunity.

Except time is slipping through my hands like fine sand. The later I start, the less I can capitalise on whatever potential I have. The less good I can do. And maybe no good at all if something happens to me before I decide to get started. So I guess I should start. Soon. Tomorrow. Maybe?

Time's ticking

I can do anything

I may or may not have potential but where I’m truly lucky, is that I have been brought up without restricting beliefs. The thought that I couldn’t do something or wouldn’t be good at something because I’m a woman never even crossed my mind. I never really considered either that I would suck at something that interested me. I studied biology and languages. I’ve proved career advisors wrong by successfully switching from language studies to business school. I managed IT projects, with teams of very knowledgeable experts, usually forgetting I was usually the only women in the room (and the most inexperienced). I started a new sport in my 30s and stuck with it. I’ve been getting workouts done in the dark, in the rain and in the cold after years of having repeated to myself that I couldn’t achieve anything if no one was forcing me to.

Some of this is because I have a Rebel tendency, according to Gretchen Rubin’s framework. I like to defy expectations, prove people wrong and go in the opposite direction to where people expect me to be. If only I could harness this to get over the imposter syndrome that’s gripping me. Some of this may be because, I am capable when I put my mind to it. Maybe.

Looking at the previous paragraphs, you’d think I had it cracked. That the imposter voice in my head had been silenced. But it’s as it’s getting louder and louder each year. As if the more I’m exposed to society, it’s expectations and judgements, the louder the imposter voice becomes. Or is it just getting old and become wiser? As in, don’t go and do stupid things you may regret because at this age, you’re meant to have a plan and know what you’re doing. And you won’t have time to start again.

Add to this, the current situation with the pandemic. The uncertainty of what future lies ahead is creating so much anxiety. Where not knowing when/if this will end is making people restless. So screw the future and live in the now? Or create your own future?

I’m going to give the second one a go!


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