Far too often I have stopped myself from pursuing professional ventures because I didn’t feel like I was good enough.
For example, at a previous job a position opened in my department and it had Tiffany written all over it.The job description very much aligned with my interests and skills. However, I didn’t have the number of years listed under the minimum requirements. I also felt like I hadn’t been in my position at the time long enough to be going for a promotion. Long story short I didn’t go after that job and someone (who I considered) less qualified went for it. That person bet on themselves. They tried and succeeded. I didn’t even give myself the opportunity to succeed. Why?
One of my pet peeves in life is living with what ifs. I don’t want to live like that. So it infuriates me when I think about all the opportunities I let pass me by because of what if scenarios. Self inflicted pain. Ugh.
The most disappointing thing about this entire story is that I didn’t give myself a chance. Like my mom always told me, “The worst thing they can say is no.” If we never ask, the answer will always be no. We MUST get out of our own way and go for it. People of color are disturbingly underrepresented in academic spaces. Even with the progression of faculty and staff of color, there are still so many of us in mid and executive level positions who are the only one. So, for those of us who do work in education we can’t allow our insecurities to hold us back from pursuing opportunities. Our students need to see us in these positions. We need to see more of each other in these positions. As a woman of color I owe it to myself. If I don’t believe in and advocate for myself who will?
There are so many reasons why I didn’t go for that position, but I think the biggest one is I didn’t believe in myself. I feared that if I got the job, my colleagues would discover that I didn’t actually know what I was doing (even though I did) and expose me. I feared that I would get the job and literally not have a clue of what was going on. I feared that I would do amazing work, build this crazy expectation, get asked to do something I didn’t know how to do, fail, and then get exposed. I concocted all kinds of scenarios in my head about why I wouldn’t be a good fit. The one thing I didn’t do was give myself a chance. I never went through the reasons why I could’ve been a great fit. I didn’t apply to the job based off a bunch of what ifs.
The thing is mistakes are okay. Failing is okay. It’s part of life. It’s also when we learn the most. Letting opportunities pass by because you don’t think you’re good enough is not a good enough reason. Chances are you’re not only good enough but you’re probably better than you think! Internalizing the stress and anxiety that comes with believing that you aren’t good enough or that you’ll be exposed at any given moment is not okay. It’s unhealthy (Look out for that self care post in the future!).
Interested in some tips about how to overcome imposter syndrome? Check out 21 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome by Kyle Eschenroeder.