You are enough.
This past week brought me face to face with my imposter syndrome multiple times. As an introvert, it’s difficult to do a lot of social interactions and public speaking, but I had to do both multiple times last week.
On Wednesday, I spoke on a panel at DePaul University with other talented women reporters. On Friday night, I hosted a Working Journalists meeting at the Chicago News Guild office, during which I talked with other freelancers about their concerns. I remember stumbling over my words. I remember losing my train of thought and struggling to find the right word to say. I was so nervous, but it was definitely worth it.
Thinking back on this, my mind made things worse than it had to be. Wednesday afternoon before the panel began, I kept thinking, “Why did they ask you to do this? You’re not as experienced as the other journalists on the panel. How can you sit in front of students who are only a few years younger than you and give them advice?”Friday evening before the Working Journalists meeting, I thought to myself, “What am I going to say? I’m in my twenties. I’ve never been part of an organization. How am I going to lead this meeting?”
If you've ever started to doubt your abilities, you're not alone. Many of us feel pressure to achieve, and that desire turns into self-doubt. That doubt, commonly referred to as imposter syndrome, is a term for feeling like you don't measure up to your peers. (The American Psychological Association has some useful tips for overcoming imposter syndrome.)
This is the part where having a good support system comes in. It’s important to have people who will give constructive criticism. But moments like this require close friends and colleagues who will lift you up when you’re too hard on yourself. Thankfully, I have friends and family to turn to when I’m feeling unsure or flat out unqualified. I’ve also had to look at my resume and portfolio and admit that I’ve done some pretty cool pieces in my career so far.
Whenever my imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, I have to remind myself of the work I’ve done and the time that I have to grow into the writer that I want to be one day. It’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back. It’s okay to do things that scare you a bit. Once you step out of your comfort zone and reflect on the experiences and accomplishments that brought you to this point, you’ll realize how prepared you are after all.
You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be able to learn. You’re perfectly fine. You are enough.
What do you do to build up your confidence? Leave some tips in a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.