According to Oxford Dictionaries, impostor syndrome is defined as “The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”
As I entered the room, I couldn’t shake the notion of feeling like a fraud, like I didn’t belong there with everyone else and that I’d be found out and be made to leave. The unsettling feeling didn’t leave that night or during the classes that followed.
So, I kept going to class and doing the work, still feeling anxious. I sat on the outskirts of the room and kept mostly to myself, saying little and interacting minimally with my classmates. I felt insecure because of my age and lack of experience due to the fact that I was with people who had as many years of work experience as I had been alive. The program was a course that focused on teaching a combination of business and financial principles and providing resources for entrepreneurs sponsored by a local community college and the Rotary International, amongst others. When I started the process of applying to be part of the program, I honestly didn’t think I would be accepted but lo and behold, I made it through two rounds of interviews and was chosen to be a member of the inaugural cohort.
The little nagging voice didn’t go away in those initial weeks. Then, I talked to my friend who was in a similar situation where he was the youngest one in his work program. I asked him if it was weird for him but he said no, he just worked hard and people accepted him with a bit of teasing. As simple as that statement was, it was very reassuring to hear and really helped me to put the situation in perspective. So, I kept pressing on and in the weeks that followed I got to know my classmates better and I got more comfortable with the workload. I was also comforted by the realization that they were also struggling with the class assignments. By the end of the course, I no longer felt like an impostor. I learnt so much from the course and the experience and I am proud of myself for doing so. I’m both happy and relieved it’s over but I think I’m going to miss attending the classes every week. The course was great because it really helped me to think through all the nitty gritty details necessary to have a good foundation and me up for success. We had a fantastic teacher who had many years of experience working with large corporations and startups. He told lots of antidotes and relevant real life examples alongside the course material which helped us to see the application of the more complex and abstract concepts. I also had fantastic classmates and there was really great group synergy; lots of mutual support and idea sharing. It was an intense whirlwind and the homework load was quite heavy but I really enjoyed myself, learnt a lot, and met some really cool people who I became friends with.
If you are ever in a situation where you feel like you don’t belong or are not qualified, know that you were chosen for the role and placed in the situation for a reason. You are qualified or have shown that you have the ability and willingness to learn the necessary skills, you belong and most importantly, you can do this. God puts you in places for a reason. He wants you to grow, he wants you to have an impact and he also wants to be the salt and light.
You got this!
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NIV