Monday, 12 February 2018

The Imposter Syndrome

I've spent the last few weeks reading a book called 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg (the COO of Facebook). It's all about women achieving their full potential and it has absolutely fascinated me!

A term I have been introduced to is "The Imposter Syndrome":

"is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a 'fraud'" (Wikipedia)

Sheryl refers to a talk she heard (by Dr. Peggy McIntosh) explaining that this 'syndrome' is especially noticeable in women. Here is what she says:

Women especially..."feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been imposters with limited skills or abilities." (p.29)

It is the plague of self-doubt: suffocating and stalling the achievements of women and girls.
It is the outcome of underestimating ourselves.
It is insecurity-driven.

So, why are we thinking that this is especially existent in women?

I couldn't write this part of Sheryl's explanation in any better way, so have a read of the following:
"Ask a man to explain his success and he will typically credit his own innate qualities and skills. Ask a woman the same question and she will attribute her success to external factors, insisting she did really well because she 'worked really hard', or 'got lucky', or 'had help from others'." (p.30)

I have to admit that I often feel afraid of being exposed as someone who does not have it all together, someone who doesn't have it sorted. But actually, I'm not afraid of being exposed as that person, hence my openness to be real and vulnerable. I'm actually afraid of what others will think, say and do as a result...It's a double-edged sword.

Now I understand that, biblically, we mustn't think we are better than we are (Romans 12:3) BUT I believe that as women, historically, we have gone so far as to not viewing ourselves exactly as we are.

Perhaps us women have a tendency to evaluate one another cruelly; looking not to find their 'better' but to find their 'worse'. Perhaps we need to assess the heart of other women because only then will we see their accomplishments and success in their rightful light; exactly as they are. 

We have to stop being so afraid of the analysis of others and the over-analysis of ourselves and focus on the personal assignment given by God to each of us - to be where we are and to do what we're doing with UNSTOPPABLE grace, humility, passion, desire and fervor. 

Only when we do that will we see overflow and outpouring of the same culture into the lives of young women and girls too. Let's be the fire-starters.

I'll keep you posted.