Updated: Jun 14, 2022
These last few months have been busy! Dealing with COVID, maintaining relationships, working, and more have been challenging. All through this time, I know I have done well. But the doubt of "being good enough" still hangs about.
Last night, while making dinner, I listened to an episode of Hidden Brain on my local NPR affiliate (WBEZ-Chicago). Shankar was interviewing Psychologist Kevin Cokely, who studies the effects of self-doubt. He discussed how many people go through life feeling like frauds and that someone will "find them out." He explained how the poet Maya Angelou thought she might be discovered to be a fraud or not good enough despite having written many books and received many awards.
Listen to the episode here: Hidden Brain, December 16, 2021
I had to stop making the pico de gallo, take notes, and write down my thoughts on what I was hearing.
You can read more about Kevin Cokley on his website.
Self-doubt, or Imposter Syndrome, is a topic that resonates with me (and with many people, I'm sure!). As a Latina, a woman, a professional, a mother and grandmother, a wife, and now a business owner. There is a battle in my head of feeling that I need to do more to prove myself and recognize that I have the experience, knowledge, and character to know that I excel in many things.
Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.
When life tossed me a lemon in 2020 (just as the pandemic was starting), I had to decide what to do next and what I was good at doing and could share with others. It wasn't easy to acknowledge my value and experience, especially when I was down after a toxic work experience. I knew in my heart that I had a lot to share. So, first, I decided to stay busy!
I enrolled in a Master's program at DePaul University. I'm pleased to say that I will graduate with a Master of Nonprofit Management in a few short months. I love learning, and this was something I always wanted to do.
Then in February 2021, I read Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome by Jodi-Ann Burey, published in the Harvard Business Review. When I read this line, I felt seen.
For women of color, self-doubt and the feeling that we don’t belong in corporate workplaces can be even more pronounced. Not because women of color (a broad, imprecise categorization) have an innate deficiency, but because the intersection of our race and gender often places us in a precarious position at work.
This statement felt real to me. And after a year of the pandemic and returning to school, I knew it was time to determine my future. It was then that I decided to start my management consulting business. Why? Because of my years of experience and education, I understand the issues, concerns, and joys of women and BIPOC persons working in the public sector.
I've experienced the frustration of not getting complete information when applying for a grant or finding resources alongside white-male colleagues. I know the volume I have had to use to make my voice heard, to have my ideas acknowledged, and to learn to amplify my accomplishments. And I know I can help others do the same in the nonprofit and small business world.
Kevin Cokley suggested in the interview that I agree with and have done: make a work diary. Or whatever you would like to call it. A journal of accomplishments or a running list of awesomeness! Especially those things that didn't get a certificate or a write-up in a journal. The first one I did was five pages long and required the help of a good friend to remember facts and convince me that I should celebrate my work.
Here's a great article by Kat Ambrose: How these women entrepreneurs learned to battle Imposter Syndrome
I want to help other women and BIPOC persons succeed as an entrepreneur. Whether through my organization skills, my understanding of nonprofits, my experience in executive tasks, or working in a world where we are easily overlooked, I am sure that I can help others achieve their goals. And when I feel like "I'm not good enough," I'll head back to this post and remember that I am excellent!