Made to measure

Management, Anxiety and Feeling Like an Imposter

My mother calls me several times during the day and
when I answer it’s usually to tell me about the latest Duchess of Sussex gossip or something silly my brother
has done.

And yet every time I have to say the same thing:
“Mum, I’m at work, I can’t talk now”
.
I guess it’s funny for our parents to think of their children in full-time work. Of course, my mother is very proud of
me and #humblebrags to her friends about my latest achievements, but ultimately she still sees me as her little girl.

Working at 101 Ways is great. The company invests in us as leaders; we have management meetings every six-to-eight weeks which allows time for reflection and reviewing the past month or so’s successes and pitfalls. This way we’re all able to understand what we should continue doing and what we need to improve and how. But as much as I love being a part of a great leadership team, being one of the youngest in the room does not do wonders for my anxiety, which I talked about in a previous post.
I can’t deny that the feeling of being ‘young and inexperienced’ in comparison to my peers (and therefore undeserving), plays on my mind regularly. I’m in a management position and while I don’t have decades of talent experience under my belt, what I do have is the skills.  It is this that I try to remember when each day I am surrounded by amazing people who have already achieved so much in their careers.
But that doesn’t stop me feeling like a fraud.
Almost three quarters of people will suffer from the anxiety disorder known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’ – a term first coined by psychologists in 1978 – at some point in their life and it’s reported to be particularly prevalent among high achieving women and young people.
How does this play out for me? For one, I often feel like the only thing I am successful at is deceiving people. My anxiety leaves me wondering when (not if) the team will find out that I am not that special coupled with overarching fear that I cannot live up to others’ expectations of me and will eventually let them down. And when I do, I’ll be sent packing with a large dose of shame and confirmation that I was right to think I was never really up to the job in the first place. Yet, with almost a decade of working in the recruitment industry under my belt, including two years at 101 Ways, this has never happened. Nor will it, because logically – and factually – it’s simply not true.
It’s a daily battle to remind myself that I’m supposed to be where I am, so I wanted to share my way of coping in the hope that it might help others in the same position.
I can imagine that in this 24/7 digital world, it may come across as slightly old fashioned advice, but I promise the proof is in the pudding. Get out a pen and paper (remember those things?) and write down your professional achievements, no matter how small and no matter whether you were fully or partially responsible for them. Everything counts.
While I find it difficult to shout about them, here are the things I’m proud of and were stepping stones to where I am today:

  • Managed a team of four by 27;
  • Received an award for being Top Performer / Biller in 2016;
  • Successfully changed career direction from being an external recruiter to an internal one;
  • Been part of a team that helped grow 101 Ways from two to over 100 people across London and Amsterdam in two years;
  • Implemented new processes to boost transparency when it comes to hiring;
  • Trained as a Scrum Master; and
  • Helped build an awesome Talent team at 101 Ways, which I am incredibly proud of.

So that’s me. Now it’s your turn. Just remember, you deserve to be where you are and don’t let your anxiety – or anyone – tell you otherwise.

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