Fighting impostor syndrome with experience

I had an important meeting last week. I think it well. If it did, it could mean new, better, and different things for me professionally. So, of course, I am replaying every minute of it and thinking of all the things I didn’t say. “Oh man! I should have told them about this!” Or, “I forgot to mention that.” I’ve done this dance with impostor syndrome before. Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.

It was only one week ago and they told me that it would be weeks before I hear anything. But, that’s not stopping me from jumping every time my phone rings or I get an email alert. I have even considered applying for other jobs that I know I don’t want.

I continue to torture myself. I am spending way too much time on social media. Because when I am feeling low about myself, the best place to turn is the internet!

“What’s your brand? I have no idea.

“Want more followers, more money, and more freedom?” Join this webinar, buy my class, and then in 1,000 easy blogging steps and ten years you’ll be an entrepreneur! 

Is your website on-point? Is it SEO? What does that even mean?

If any one of of my clients was talking about- or to- themselves the way I was talking to myself, I would have coached them out of it. And fast. I would never let one of my clients- or a friend- talk to herself that way. So why do I talk to myself that way? When things don’t go according to plan- which is pretty much always- I tend to spiral. It’s one of the many gifts of my east coast, competitive, type A personality.

I am also learning that spiraling is a symptom of lack of self-love.

I love myself. I do. But, I need to stop acting like it is a secret or something to hide. Women tend to be harder on themselves than necessary and downplay their accomplishments. It’s the 1-2 impostor syndrome sucker-punch. I chose “confidence” as my 2016 #oneword for that very reason. I want to get back to feeling grounded, resilient, confident.

I read or heard somewhere that one way to fight impostor syndrome, or any kind of spiral, is to reflect on your accomplishments. To spend time really thinking moments and experiences you are proud of.

I decided to share some of my list here. It was an act of self-love to write these all down. And, I am proud of myself. I am confident.

  • Carried, delivered, and then breastfed two babies
  • Did the above while enrolled as a full-time PhD student
  • Married 13 years to my best friend
  • Earned PhD in 5 years
  • Shepherded 3 yr-old son through cancer, also while a full-time PhD student
  • PhD loan is paid off (there was only one!)
  • Started Sheldrake Consulting so I can help others write their career stories
  • Made money in only 17 months of business
  • All clients have been through referrals; I have not done any serious PR or marketing of my business
  • Successfully negotiated an MBTI workshop rate that was 30% higher than previous year
  • Purchased summer cottage rental property business
  • Have given a FREE week-long vacation to 5 families with childhood cancer survivors
  • Shave head twice with 46 Mommas
  • Served on leadership team of 2 national head-shaving events
  • Raised almost $10,000 in donations for St. Baldrick’s Foundation
  • Got interviewed on live TV (twice)
  • Randomly contacted a stranger on Twitter and then got invited to do a podcast
  • Started writing memoir
  • Go to work. Every day.
  • Continue to raise two kind, honest, loving, affectionate, smart, generous young men who are constantly being complimented on their hearts, behavior, manners and positive attitude

I’m a little high from my list. What’s on your list? Have you taken the time to write it down? Do it. You’ll feel better.

And, if you’re anything like me, your impostor syndrome will go back in its hole where it belongs.

 

 

 

The New Normal: Nothing’s Normal | Children’s Cancer Research Fund

Grateful to Laura Sobiech and Allie Shoemaker for their invitation to share our childhood cancer journey with the Children’s Cancer Research Fund audience. My guest blog post can be found by clicking on the link below.

On December 12, 2008, our then 3-year-old son, Luke, was…

Source: The New Normal: Nothing’s Normal | Children’s Cancer Research Fund

Passion is a luxury

I had passion. I was 25 years old, Master’s Degree in hand and a year of full-time service with AmeriCorps under my belt. I was a faithful, faith-filled, world-changing, ass-kicker.

And then I grew up.

Then my kid got sick. Then my life changed course. Then I lied to myself and told myself to keep going even though I knew it felt wrong. It still feels wrong- like wearing shoes that are too tight.

Part of our student affairs messaging has been that “how you do stuff matters” and I bought that hook, line, sinker. I built my career and my education on it. But the last six years have shown me that that message is only the message. It doesn’t translate to practice.

I was passionate until I got burned. Until I was betrayed by friends in multiple job searches.Until I have seen colleagues with questionable moral compasses and inappropriate office etiquette get promoted. Until I called HR and aired serious concerns about fellow “professionals'” behavior, only to be told that “it wasn’t illegal.”

It takes courage to stay in environments where you’re not passionate. I do not say that to be a martyr. But to give people S P A C E to breathe. To give myself room. I am drowning. I am bitter with words that I have choked back for years for fear of…what? Being labeled negative? Too late. For being labeled aggressive? Also too late. For fear of not getting hired, or branded right, or or or or? What?

I am so tired of hiding. Of not sharing my personal truth for fear of haters and trolls. The fact that I feel this fear, and have felt this fear for years, speaks volumes about how we treat whistle-blowers and dissenting voices in our profession. I know I am not alone. I have Twitter DMs and email streams from my fellow passion-naysayers. Yet, so few of us take the time to write about the shadows we all experience.

At 40 years old, with two small children, multiple mortgages, car payments, orthodontics, and a college fund, passion is a luxury I cannot afford. The flip side of the passion coin is obligation. I have obligations that I have chosen. As a grown-up, I cannot and I will not toss them aside to pursue my passions. My passions are: chocolate, wine, writing, reading, reading, napping, and binge-watching old school episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Last time I checked that was not a full-time job with health and retirement benefits. If you find such a position, please share my LinkedIn profile with the committee. Because, my LI is up to date and properly branded 😉

Passion is a bullshit bill of goods that we all got sold in grad school to make up for crappy pay and long hours. I have friends who are teachers, pharmacists, state employees, and accountants. The only people talking about passion are the teachers and I think part of that is because they get snow days and summers off.

Work can be work.  Passion is a luxury that many people can’t afford. Passion also reeks of privilege, but that’s another post. So, let’s practice what we preach and start doing for each other what we profess to do for students. Let’s back-off the passion rhetoric and let people B E. Let people choose what works for them.

My hands are shaking and there is a voice in my head screaming at me not to hit publish. I am feeling shame and vulnerability right now. I am choosing to live into it and share my story. Brene Brown says that writing messages doesn’t give the message power, it gives you power.

I hope she’s right. Here we go…..