February 27   Imposter Syndrome

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Serendipity is the strangest thing. Yesterday I was having this long talk with Ben about combating negativity and personal attacks – reconciling the hateful things people say about you or to you with how you see yourself. Today, I’m sitting here watching an interview that Oprah did with Sheryl Sandberg which aired on Jan 21st but I’ve been putting off watching. She’s talking about her book Lean In, which I vaguely recall got some negative press when it was published but I forget what.

Anyway, they’re talking about the bullshit labels/pressure people put on women – egĀ  “having it all” and “work life balance”. Noone ever really asks successful men how they manage to have it all or balance work and life (they have wives for that, right?). And work life balance is a privilege that not everyone gets to contemplate anyhow.

Then they get on to the “imposter syndrome” and I start nodding my head. And realising how much this ties into yesterday’s conversation. Sandberg says that whilst some men do suffer from it, more women than men do. And when you ask a woman and a man about their success, a man more often than not will own his success, that it’s from what *he did*, from what he knows and his skills. Whereas a woman will “attribute her success to luck, help from other people and working hard, and not from her own skills. And even if you’re confident enough to own your own success, the world will attribute her success to luck and working hard and not from her own skills.” And then she says, “we do it to ourselves and the world does it *to* us.”

Wow. I have to sit with that for a while. But just Yes. What an interesting discussion to come past me just when I was thinking these things through only yesterday. So many passing snide remarks in my direction over time- it’s my friends who all voted for me, I sucked my way onto that list (I’m very tired now), editing collections is so much easier than anthologies cause they are all the one writer’s work (and I guess I just put the staple on the pages and hand it in with my name on it?), who is she? I’ve never heard of her, I don’t understand why these female run small presses are doing so well. And on and on.

It’s interesting to deconstruct. Isn’t it very telling to assume that working well with others or working hard are the parts of success that hold no value? Imagine having all the skills in the world but never actually applying them. Or not applying them consistently or with perseverance. Imagine having all the skills in the world but being a totally foul person who makes teamwork intolerable. Actually, I don’t have to imagine these two examples at all.


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