It is great to be asked to write a Blog for the fantastic new Modern Insurance Website. I decided against ‘Whiplash’ as I think many of you have heard so much from me on the topic. Instead, I have decided to share my experience with ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
When Sam White invited me to do a Podcast with her on Imposter Syndrome, I said yes for two reasons. Firstly, I had never taken part in a Podcast before but love a challenge, and secondly, I knew I could relate to the subject and, hopefully, bring my experiences, some honesty and humour to the Podcast.
Some of us may vaguely know what the syndrome is but for those that do not it is when we doubt our accomplishments and fear others may think we are a fraud because of those doubts, to put very simply. It has been around a while and we get the gist of it but when you look more deeply, there will be very few of us who have not experienced it at some level and who cannot relate to how it manifests itself in our day-to-day life. The more I read/heard, the more I ticked another box. Scary but cathartic stuff.
I was thinking about who might suffer, why and how we can try to make it less prevalent, and support each other. It seemed to me that if successful and influential people admit they have felt it then it would be a great first step to help others to admit it too, and not feel alone. Some very interesting people have publicly expressed experience of Imposter Syndrome like Neil Armstrong, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou and Nicola Sturgeon, to name a few we know well.
Knowing that other people have had the same thoughts or feelings can make it seem less scary. I first thought that the reason I was an ideal candidate for Imposter Syndrome was because my background is basic. I left school early but returned to education later, eventually qualifying as a lawyer but never going to a traditional university. I was wrong. This can hit anybody. Any age, any sex, any background, any time. It can be very serious for some people and very debilitating. It can ruin careers, lives and really affect our mental health.
Recent research from NatWest, as part of its #OwnYourImposter campaign, showed that 60% of women who have considered starting a business did not because of lack of confidence, not feeling like the type of person who could start a business or feeling they did not deserve to succeed despite their skills. This is one of the reasons why just one-fifth of UK businesses are run by women.
I think being able to be open up about having feelings of Imposter Syndrome without fearing repercussions is needed. I think being honest with each other and being kind helps too. Do not forget to tell people when they have done well. We can be very quick to criticise but sometimes a bit less quick to dish out praise.
Like everything, talking is helpful so I hope the Podcast and this blog will help some people to stand up, like me, and admit they are an Imposter!