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    Imposter No More


    The other day I was chatting with one of my mentors about the continued qualms of being a black woman in the workspace when we touched on the topic of imposter syndrome. Too often as women we focus on being flawless and 100% accurate before we can be present, which is a detrimental fallacy. Yes, knowing what you are doing and having the skills to do it is important. However, the unrealistic drive for perfection can often destroy our confidence and ability to be prominent contributors as we opt not to play a strong role until we know we are 100% ready (while males can often only be 50% ready for a task but be 90%+ confident that they can do it).

    Despite all that, there are ways to climb out of the pit and see the light. It makes me happy to see women- whether in tech, finance, human resources, etc.- building and making a name for themselves. So let’s continue to make ourselves aware and build our empires.


    1. Self-assessment

    If you’re always analyzing what you think everyone on the external thinks of you, it can be overwhelming and fuel your imposter syndrome. However, I find that taking a moment to analyze my daily interactions allows me to self-assess and break “imposter” habits. Take this example:

    Ada was asked to work with one of her co-workers, Matt, on a presentation. Ada knew the information for the deck better than Matt, but Matt was more confident that he knew the information. Ada, knowing Matt’s confidence could possibly dominate the discussion around putting together the presentation, took a moment to realize that she was in fact an expert on the topic and that her input was valuable and necessary before meeting with Matt. The meeting went great as Ada was able to provide and support her ideas and opinions about the slides and presentation. Ada did notice a moment at the end of the conversation in which Matt had complimented her on how much she knew and her response defaulted to her hyper-humility and disregard for her skills. During her self-reflection right after the meeting, she made a note to give a strong “Thank you. It was awesome working with you,” instead next time.

    2. Have a holistic view

    Imposter syndrome is a hindrance to progress. If a group of people who count on your input, skills and perspective are constantly being met with a less confident and doubtful you, it can be very stifling to the group’s growth and success. That is why it is also important to have an environmental reflection on your value. Two questions to ask yourself:

    1. How is my presence critical to my environment?
    2. If I choose to hold back the true potential of my strengths, how will that affect those around me?

    Thinking about how imposter syndrome affects those around you is key to having a holistic view about its effects and why you deserve to be confident in yourself and your skills.

    3. Goals, goals, goals

    I talk about them a lot in my pieces, but goals can be a guide to finding solutions and yourself. Having a set of goals can be one way to create a focal point and drive you to achieve confidently. For example, if someone wants to be promoted within the next 2 years or be acknowledged by a society at the next annual conference, those desires will drive their actions and how they interact with others. Networking, improving their skills at work, making their presence known for others to recognize them- all these things involve confidence even when they are not quite sure of how things will turn out. Use a goal, not matter how big or small, to guide your path over a certain amount of time and see how it changes your interactions with others and your understanding of your value.

    4. Mentorship

    Find someone in your space (whether that’s work, school, etc.) who can teach you about their experiences. Someone who you can build a strong relationship with to discuss any problems or emotions you have. Being able to talk to more experienced people has always been a source of encouragement for me because there are some amazing people out there waiting to share their (un)success stories and help someone else. Mentors serve as a great source of inspiration and a shoulder to lean on.

    But if anything, always remember:


    Images: Giphy


    Stephanie Emenyonu
    Stephanie Emenyonu

    Find me on: Web | Twitter



    1. July 30, 2017 / 4:59 pm

      This is a great post. I waited so long to publish my website until I thought it was perfect and guess what? It still isn’t but I received inquiries on it right away. I agree that having a mentor really helps. Receiving support and constructive criticism from someone outside the family circle often helps me put things in perspective.

    2. Tracey
      July 30, 2017 / 11:17 pm

      Excellent post! All too often black women are taught to dim our light to make others comfortable which is one reason we forget how to toot our own horn in a positive, self affirming, not arrogant, way no matter how small the accomplishment. This too lends to the imposter syndrome because dumbing yourself down can make you believe that you aren’t as good as you really are.

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