(Photo: Instagram photo via @kathleenbanzon at Castelo do Mouros in Portugal)
I recently found myself at the center of an ambitiously large project that would impact the way we operate internally. The outcome of this project will bring about systematic changes company-wide and how we will communicate with constituents. This means more efficiency. More automation. More time for strategy. Simply more time back into our day to day to focus on big picture issues. And I stand in the heart of this project.
This has been three years in the making. I can to join a a very small but very powerful team that kept engines large-scale initiatives going. I started as a project manager but a few months into it find myself easily becoming a digital engagement strategist managing a software that no one dared to touch.
Fast forward to present-day, the software became my baby. I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into a complex platform and made it work for us – most of the time. I’m so proud of what I’ve done. Have received personal commendation from the president of the company for outstanding work. Trusted by my colleagues and peers. And to top it off, this was is not my specialty nor it’s what I’m naturally good at.
If you tell me there’s a job out there where I will play the technical specialist to problem solve issues surrounding constituent engagement in various events I would tell you – HELL NO! That’s not for me. That sounds complicated. But here I am. Spending my days, nights and some weekends in the past three years fiddling with this software where my email communications reaches tens of thousands of recipients. I’m not the one to doubt my ability. I’m a fairly confident and secure individual that the so-called imposter syndrome sounds more like a myth than a reality. But it’s real and it hit me real hard this week.
boy is it real.
Despite the amazing successes I’ve had customizing the product to fit organizational needs I still found myself ruminating over all the potential what ifs. What if it fails? If I forgot something? Or if I missed an important piece of this complex system? What if? What if?
Oh, the what ifs are never ending!
That’s the problem with imposter syndrome. It’s really just a rabbit hole of terrible, irrational thinking. And it plagues women more harshly than it does men. When the insistent obsession hits, that downward spiral will take you down fast and hard. And frankly, it takes a massive support system to pull you out of the black hole in which you created yourself.
I sometimes ponder if the imposter syndrome is also our way of protecting ourselves from the sheer fear of failure. Perhaps it helps us preemptively reconcile with our insecurities about a possible but very hypothetical failed outcome. Perhaps it’s a way by which we prepare ourselves to deal with disappointing others.
it’s all in the mind.
But that’s just what it all is. This is all symptomatic of our own personal narratives. Those damn voices in our heads. Imagining terrible outcomes is definitely not going to be the best way to manage anticipation. I’ve met many a great women who have fulfilling careers and endless titles that still experience this feeling of inadequacy. It seems like it’s the recurring demon of one’s professional nightmares that never seem to go away until they nip it in the bud before they even find that rabbit hole.
While the project is still very much underway things are going swimmingly for me. (When I’m not in the process of rumination). And because I can’t possibly predict the outcome, the best I can do is trust my abilities and the decisions I’ve made for this project. Because frankly, what else can I do? If my large-scale, global organization puts its trust on me, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t either.