When I started The Diamond Arrow Group and had to create the website and social media channels, I started hearing voices in my head.
“What are you doing Kelly?! What makes you an expert?”
“Why do you think you are capable of doing this?”
“You’re going to make a fool out of yourself when everyone realizes you’re a rookie!”
Imposter syndrome is real, and it affects a lot of women.
Maybe a big promotion has opened up at your company, or you got asked to tell your story on a stage, or you are offered an opportunity to do something outside your comfort zone. What is the first thing that goes through your head? You might have a split second of excitement before that voice in your head says,
“but if I say yes, they’ll discover I’m not an expert and realize I’ve been faking it all along.”
Dr. Valerie Young has been helping people for decades who struggle with feeling like an imposter. She breaks it down in to four “competence types” in her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How To Thrive in Spite of It.
- The Perfectionist – 99 out of 100 equals failure
- The Expert – need to know and understand EVERYTHING, otherwise they’re a failure
- The Soloist – needing to ask for help is a failure
- The Natural Genius – if they struggle at something on the first try, they’re a failure
- The Superwoman/man/student – need to handle it all perfectly and at the same time, or they’re a failure
Do any of those competence types sound familiar to you? For me personally, “The Expert” type is the one I struggle with the most. When I started The Diamond Arrow Group Facebook page, I literally started sweating as I was inviting friends to like the page. That voice kept saying,
“Who are YOU to say you are the expert at teaching Situational Awareness to women?”
“Did you get a degree in this field? Did you read enough books?”
“All these women you’re inviting to like your page are going to think you’re crazy!”
When I mentioned my struggles to a close group of friends who’d become my sounding board, one of them blurted out, “Don’t you worry that if you DON’T get out there and talk about this, someone might die?”
It was a dramatic statement in stark contrast with my imposter syndrome inner voice, so we got a good laugh out of it, but it also was a light bulb moment for me. The longer I wallowed in my fears, the less opportunities I had to share what I knew and help someone live a safer and more confident life. I shifted that inner voice from “I so nervous” to “I’m so excited!”. Any time that little voice started going to the negative side, I would stop it and think about how excited I was to have the amazing opportunity to share what I knew about situational awareness with other women.
Maybe you have a little voice in your head saying you could never tell a stranger to back off if they got too close. Maybe you worry that if a guy you know started making you uncomfortable, you wouldn’t know how to make it clear you don’t like their actions. Maybe you struggle with self-confidence in your ability to physically defend yourself, so you walk with your head down and avoid eye contact. I totally understand. Let me help you build your confidence so you can move forward and live life on your own terms.
If you want to stop feeling that way, you must stop thinking that way. You got this.