This article was originally published by Smart Company
By Dr Amantha Imber
September 19, 2019
I learnt there is a term for this type of thinking: impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a way of thinking whereby you doubt or fail to acknowledge your accomplishments and worry that you will be exposed as a fraud.
Impostor syndrome has periodically reared its ugly head at many pivotal points in my life. Several years after the ‘administrative error’ incident, when I was 26, I was headhunted by Leo Burnett to move to Sydney and work as a senior strategist. I remember landing in Sydney and worrying that once I started my new job, my boss would realise he hadn’t read my resume properly and I would be returned back to Melbourne (this never happened and I stayed in the role for three years).
With every year that has passed in my adult life, I feel like I have ever so slowly removed myself from the shackles that impostor syndrome envelopes you in. Every once in a while, I’ll achieve something, and rather than attributing it to luck or other people’s doing, I’ll actually attribute it to me.
But at other times, I’ll be pulled back to my 21-year-old self. Like I was last week.
It was Tuesday late morning, and I had just logged on to check my emails for the day. There was an email that had ‘congratulations’ in the title. Naturally, I assumed it was someone congratulating me for inheriting two million pounds from my distant Nigerian relative. But no, I wasn’t about to get rich quick. It was the Australian Financial Review informing me I had been named one of this year’s 100 Women of Influence. It’s a list that aims to identify women who are championing change in business and society.
I read the email — and then read it a couple more times. Just like when I was 21, I assumed I had ended up on the wrong distribution list and this news was meant for someone else. Turns out I was wrong. It was actually meant for me.
‘Seriously,’ I thought to myself, ‘Has nothing changed?’
As I began to reflect on my reaction in the days that followed, I realised that all my life, I had been waiting for confidence to embody me. I was waiting for the day that my achievements would somehow warrant feeling unequivocally confident.
But this day would never come.
Instead, I realised (with the help of a Seth Godin blog) that confidence is a choice, not a symptom. And it is up to me to choose confidence.