Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Imposter syndrome

I was sitting in a meeting today, discussing a potential new project with some colleagues that I had only ever spoken to via email before, when I had a horrible sensation of time slowing down. I was still speaking, and I must have carried on at normal speed because they didn't react at all, but it felt like I was movingly through treacle. Apologies for the cliche, but sometimes the worst words are the best.

So there I am, treacle and all, in a meeting room, having the realisation that I don't deserve to be there. I haven't earned this job, I can't bring anything to the role, with these poor people stuck listening to me thinking that I'm stupid.

Except of course none of that is true.

I like my job, I worked hard to get it and work hard now that I have it, and when I'm feeling positive I know that I am good at it. Let's be honest, it boils down to playing with spreadsheets and telling people what to do so I'm pretty much in my element.  The people I'm talking to are listening, listening intently, and agreeing, and making notes and the meeting is going really well.

But still, it is there. The nagging doubt that someone is going to burst into the room and drag me out, ringing a bell and shouting "imposter, imposter", in a Monty Python "bring out your dead" style only 100% less funny.

There are lots of reasons why this happened today, rather than any other day; my health has been bad this last couple of days. I'm overweight and feeling low about it. I have background stresses. It's still a fairly new job and I'd not met these people before so wanted to make a good impression.

But something was different today. I didn't have a panic attack, or start sweating, or try to run away. I kept breathing, and I dealt with it, and I told the voices in my head to shut the hell up because dammit they were wrong. I can do this, I'm not dressing up and pretending to do my job, I'm doing it, five days a week every week. You know something? It felt good to shut those voices down for once.

Next time I might not manage it, they might get the better of me, like they would have done six months ago, but not today.

Today I stood my ground and planted my flag.

Today, I won.