Imposter syndrome is rife even among accomplished women

I was recently honoured as one of four #WomenWithDrive for 2019 by Ford Motor Company South Africa.  The idea behind this campaign is to bring women together, to share their stories, to empower, motivate, uplift, and inspire. Showcasing that despite adversity and challenges in their professional or personal lives, they are more resilient than they often give themselves credit for.

At the celebratory dinner, all four of us stood up and gave an unprepared, impromtu talk from the heart to the women gathered around the very long and beautifully set table. The ‘acceptance speeches’ if you could call them that, were heartfelt around our personal experiences – both the highs and the challenges, the lessons learnt and the work that we do. Every single one was powerful in a very deep, articulate, personal and feminine way and the audience was riveted as we shared our stories.

It was not until the next day when we were on a 4 x 4 course together that we discovered that we had all experienced imposter syndrome the previous evening. These were some of the thoughts we admitted to feeling:

  • Why me?
  • Why do I deserve this?
  • I’m not so special am I?
  • I can’t speak as well as the woman who is currently on her feet
  • My story doesn’t compare to hers
  • What am I going to say?
  • How am I going to say it?
  • What will people think?
  • I am not worthy

Each of us was relieved that we were not the only one in the group who felt inadequate, but then it also made us really acknowledge that we undervalue ourselves as women, and we are quite sure a man in our position wouldn’t be feeling this way. Or would he? We need to do some research.

What is wrong with women that they don’t believe that they are deserving of being acknowledged for who they are and the positive impact they are having on the world? Why are we so apologetic? We think that if we own the accolades we are given we are going to be perceived as full of our own importance or brash self-promoters. This is our reality. We need to find a way to change it so that we can use our platforms to make an even bigger positive impact on the world. We need to be #womenonfire who #changetheworld.

Congratulations to my fellow 2019 #WomenWithDrive nominees:

Melanie Ramjee

Penny Stein

Michelle Mosalakae

 

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