My screaming imposter syndrome and me
2018 WISE Technician Award winner Alison Dolling, talks about why sometimes she feels she doesn’t deserve the accolade and why the WISE Awards (and other Awards like them) can help build confidence and help us fight imposter syndrome.
I’m sure I’m not special in fact I know I’m not. I feel, to take a term from my late father like I’m “winging it”. When I walk into work I feel that I don’t belong there, that my job could be better done by someone else and that if anyone found out I would get my marching orders. As I said I’m not special most women feel this way, it’s even got a name….. Imposter syndrome. Can we really be blamed? As a child we’re were always told don’t be too this or you’re not that enough. From a young age, we are constantly told you aren’t good enough and then expect to be these amazing confident women that can do it all the minute we turn eighteen.
Last year I won the technician award at WISE. The first thought I had was why? Why had I won and not someone else? That was it, my imposter syndrome that isn’t just a quiet little voice in the back of my head (the way it is often described by people) but the huge booming voice that constantly tells me “you can’t do this, you don’t know the answer”. I have NO confidence, just writing this and knowing someone might read this is making me feel physically sick. However people seem to think I am confident, recently I attended the Women in leadership development programme and we were asked why we were there. There was a silence on my table as we all looked at each other, willing someone else to be first. In the spirit of trying to get more confidence, I stated that I was there to get more confidence and mute the imposter syndrome in me. We chatted as a group about how everyone on the table had felt similar issues during their careers. Later one of the women on my table said that she was really surprised that I didn’t feel confident as she thought I seemed really confident to her. My answer was simple, I pretend and she asked me why. I didn’t know why? Why do any of us think we can’t do something, pretend we can, do it and then still think we can’t do the thing we just successfully did?
Going back to the process of getting the WISE award. I had been shortlisted; I had an interview with a group of women leading in their fields. I went into the interview promising myself it would be ok and that if I couldn’t be confident I would do what I normally do and pretend. During the interview they asked me what this award would mean to me, and I was honest about the screaming imposter syndrome in me and how I hope that I would finally feel confident. At the mention of the imposter syndrome all seven women in the room did a knowing smile or nodded in agreement. Then it dawned on me these women that I look up to, they have felt how I feel. That knowledge that these women I look up to sometimes feel out of their depths or that they too have a little voice saying no to them has given me more than any award could. Yes I did win the award but I feel some days that I still don’t deserve it.
On a final note I just wanted to add that there is an imposter syndrome in all of us and it’s difficult to quieten or stop it. The cure is being confident in your abilities and in turn give that confidence in someone else’s abilities. That’s why these awards are so important. It gives people the opportunity to nominate someone (or themselves) to show them that what they do is important and that they make a difference. The award has meant so much to me, I feel more confident that the work I do is valued and makes a difference to others. Professionally, it has shown people what technicians are capable of and hopefully inspired others to consider going into the profession. I still don’t think I am special but only because I now realise that we’re all in the same boat when it comes to imposter syndrome.
The WISE Awards 2019 are now open for nominations! You can nominate yourself, your organisation or programme, or someone else. You are welcome to collaborate on your nomination forms with colleagues, family or friends.
- See the 8 categories introducing 3 new New Awards for 2019!
- Still haven’t decided whether to submit a nomination? Here are 5 reasons why you should
- Questions? See our Awards FAQ page
- Want even more inspiration? Meet our 2018 winners
- What are you waiting for ?! Nominate now!