Imposter Syndrome

I received an award today, and at the dinner right before I was about to go up, I felt a bout of imposter syndrome take over me.  Do I really deserve this? The award recognized me for mentoring other women and promoting gender equality.  I believe that I do these things, but in my moment of doubt I wondered if other people might do it better. Certainly, they must.

I consider myself a strong woman most days, but it took me quite a long time to find my voice again and it is a work in progress. This experience, though, made me think about how it seems that imposter syndrome seems to take hold of women so much more often than men and really shake them to the core. I am not saying that men never doubt their abilities, but it seems as though women have been socialized to doubt themselves. As if doubting themselves is more socially acceptable. As you can imagine, this made me even more frustrated with myself when I had my imposter syndrome thoughts this evening.  I thought about where they came from, specifically. I wasn’t sure.

I consider myself a nice person, in general, and I have come to be more nice to myself over the recent years … so I knew this imposter message wasn’t entirely generated by myself.  So, if not me, then who?

Society. Society, I guess. My 27 plus years of interacting with people have taught me that for whatever reason I am supposed to doubt my own abilities to make myself more palatable and my existence more in line with the feminine roles prescribed for me.  It is a daily choice to shed those restricting roles. Some days it is harder to rid myself of them–today might have been one of those days.

I definitely did not let these thoughts ruin my evening, it was wonderful and such an honor to be recognized. But it also taught me that social constructions of the “shoulds” for women run deep, and even though much of my work and scholarship aims to dismantle those restrictions for women–I myself am not immune from their grasp.

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