Sunday, May 27, 2012

Imposter Phenomenon

I've been meaning to do this post since MARCH! I am constantly startled by how fast time passes lately. This particular post is very relevant as I have just accepted a real, live full-time position in higher education! I won't mention where I will be working just yet but the excitement, nervousness, and congratulations over the past few days has been overwhelming. I am surrounded by very supportive and great people who have helped me get where I am today but all of the congratulating has been hard to take and during the conference I attended in March in Louisville, it made sense why.

Lisa Ling, Closing speaker at ACPA & Role Model
Two presenters from Western Kentucky University, Lindsey Gilmore and Minnette Huck, discussed what the "Imposter Phenomenon" is and how it affects (mostly*) successful women.The idea is that women attribute their successes in life, whether professional or personal, to luck or being in the right place at the right time. They have a difficult time claiming that their intelligence, talents, or skills have resulted in their success and instead pass it off as "no big deal." As we all know, women already struggle to achieve notoriety in their careers or to be seen as equals to their male counterparts for various reasons. The imposter phenomenon causes women to be less vocal about their achievements and many have a hard time standing up for themselves or speak out.

From Ann Mehl Blog
There is a quiz here that can test your own Imposter Phenomenon (IP). Both me and my colleague took the quiz during the session and we both scored quite high which made a lot of sense considering our major successes but also our considerable anxiety and doubts about our achievements and the future. It made me see my friend in a different view and want to support her as she continued in the job search process.

The presentation was not only a heads up to us personally but also as student affairs professionals. We are leaders who help students understand the possibilities and wonders that lie ahead. When we see students that are tremendously smart and talented yet have no confidence or assurance in themselves, we need to be able to help them see clearly and encourage them to continue to strive for excellence.

Personally, the presentation really opened my eyes to some of my past behaviors but also how to change future behaviors. During my entire master's program, I have tried to jump outside my comfort zone and take on challenges that I may not be 100% comfortable with. I volunteered to teach and (somewhat) lead a student organization; I took an internship in another state and specialty and did extra internships to gain more knowledge and experience. I wouldn't have changed anything about the last two years because it led me to where I am today which is planning to move in one month to another state that I have spent barely 24 hours in. It is, again, overwhelming.

The whole point of this post, in addition to shedding some light on the IP, is to also explain my immense anxiety about letting people know I have finally found a career position and that my future is exciting and amazing. This is all great stuff here! But as I let people know this week, little by little, I got big hugs and "yays!" but felt a little bit uncomfortable with the accolades. When my family says they are proud of me or when co-workers assured me that I would get a job soon, I am always appreciative of the positive thoughts but damn, I also don't know what to do with them! I work hard because I don't want to be poor anymore, I want to have heath insurance, and I want to be able to work in a place and field that I can be in for the rest of my life. I don't need much! As the news has slowly spread through my office, to my immediate family, and to friends, I am learning to say "Thank you" and smile graciously instead of passing it off as luck or no big deal.

Other articles & resources on the Imposter Phenomenon:
-Huffington Post
-The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It 
-Impostor Phenomenon and Graduate Students 
-Succession Planning and the Imposter Phenomenon in Higher Education

*Although I mention women in the above posting, this does affect males and females alike, men typically in smaller occurrences.

No comments:

Post a Comment