Recently I had a meeting with a potential client. While we were chatting about what I might be able to do for them, they asked for help on identifying funding sources. I immediately panicked.
‘I have to tell you right now that I’m totally the wrong person for this. I have never in my life submitted a funding application and I have no idea how it works and I have no contacts and you really could get someone far better than me to do this.’
So we moved on to the next item on their list. A bit later in the same meeting, I found myself talking about the Digital Development Fund; Xenos; Indycube Ventures; Finance Wales, Jobs Growth Wales, when I became aware of the client looking at me, confused.
‘I thought you said you didn’t know anything about funding? You’ve just mentioned a whole bunch of stuff that sounds like funding to me…’
YAY there’s nothing like looking like a muppet when you are trying to persuade someone to pay actual cash for your skills!
And then a couple of weeks ago, I had to pop in to see a director at work about something.
‘Ah come in, can you close the door a minute’ says she.
‘Close the door? CLOSE THE DOOR? I’m gonna get fired, I’m gonna get fired, I’m gonna get fired’ says my brain.
It turns out that this is not a conversation about getting fired, but a conversation about a possible leadership training scheme and an increase in hours and best of all, the chance to work on an absolutely AMAZING project.
Only I was so convinced I was going to get fired that it took my brain a while to catch up and I suspect I managed to witter incoherently just enough to mess up any good impression I might have inadvertently formed. Muppet, again.
I’ve always been inclined to doubt myself whilst apparently giving off an air of cockiness and confidence; but I do feel that this internal failure monologue is getting stronger as I get older. My natural reaction is to take on more stuff and set myself more goals to prove to myself I suppose that I can be the best at something – anything. Whilst my rational head can see the futility of this, my muppet head just keeps urging me onwards. I’m actually considering an ultra marathon at the moment – that’s 50 miles – for no other reason except that I feel like I should be able to do it.
I’ve read enough to know that this isn’t an unusual form of self torture – in fact, it even has a name, Impostor Syndrome – also known as the fear of being found out. Apparently 70% of people suffer from it at some point in their lives; it’s a hallmark of high achievers, and it appears to be more common in women than men though as this article points out this may be down to the fact that us ladies are better at admitting it. But giving it a name doesn’t detract from its insidious effects. Hell, do you know what I am thinking RIGHT NOW?
I’m thinking that I can’t possibly suffer from impostor syndrome because I’m not actually a high enough achiever; instead I should probably just get used to the fact that I’m actually a muppet and prepare myself for when the world inevitably finds out.
FFS! I’m actually getting kind of bored with myself here. I mean I’m forty flipping two, and isn’t your forties when life is all supposed to come together and make sense and you’re supposed to finally be comfortable with yourself? Yet here I am impostorising and fear-of-being-foundouting more than ever. I know that I need to get a grip on it or I’ll actually end up talking myself out of opportunities as I’ve so nearly done twice in the last month.
I’m going to assume that at least some people reading this post can relate to some of this (that is if I can get past the voice in my head telling me that nobody will still be reading this far down) and send out a plea for help…If you have any suggestions for managing this, or know of any good books or resources out there, please do comment below or message me privately. And I will read, review, and not only cure myself of this dastardly condition but will also announce THE definitive cure, and make it free for everyone, and become a world renowned authority on the subject, and win awards, all without apparent effort.
Oh dear. I really, REALLY, need those suggestions.