Friday, 30 July 2021

Ditch imposter syndrome and prove yourself wrong because that's all that matters | Editor's letter

Imposter syndrome puts over half of the female population, predominantly those of colour, off the idea of chasing their dreams. 

It's so common in fact that in 2019 NatWest found during a study that a staggering 60% of women never start the business they want to because of imposter syndrome.

This is because despite them having money-making skills under their belt, highly-accomplished women often feel feelings of inadequacy in careers dominated by male colleagues. 

These feelings, which are untrue and just thoughts of insecurity, give us low self-confidence, self-doubt, and also leave us feeling confused about how we 'crawled up' the corporate ladder.

We say to hell with that at VavaViolet Magazine. 

You earned your spot, now it's time to take the reign. 

But to reach your utmost potential in life and in the tough world of business you have to fight back and kill off the seven most damaging power gaps.

The seven power gaps keep professionals from either thriving in a workplace or creating their own. 

These are, not recognising what your unique talents, accomplishments, and abilities are, communicating via your fear instead of your strength, you don't ask for what you deserve, isolating yourself from influential support, fearing challenging anything, losing sight of your own individual dream, and letting past trauma be the thing that defines you.

Many of these issues would not be a problem for women, and men, of course, if we conquered their imposter syndrome. Once conquered, they are unstoppable.

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Speaking exclusively to VavaViolet Magazine, Senior Therapist Sally Baker explained that the best way to not become a victim of imposter syndrome is to practice taking the time to acknowledge your success - even the smallest wins.

Baker said: "Not everyone is plagued by imposter syndrome. For instance, those that acknowledge their accomplishments and successes feel more attached and trusting of their capabilities. 

"Those that do struggle with imposter syndrome are more likely to focus on occasions when things haven’t worked out or have been a struggle. They seem immune to acknowledging at the very core of themselves all that they have achieved."

In order to kick your imposter syndrome to the kerb, Baker advises you "gather evidence of your previous successes".

Baker advised: "Gather things you’ve achieved both large and small. Where possible have them as physical objects ie printouts or screen grabs or cuttings and look at them frequently. 

"Look at them for long enough to replenish and remind yourself how far you’ve come and the value you already amassed."

It sounds simple, doesn't it? But it works and once you start doing it, you then do it naturally and no longer have to remind yourself that you are capable of success. That's when you've gained traits of the confidence skill, and imposter syndrome is booted out of the way.

The reason females tend to suffer more is deep-rooted in society. Growing up men are praised for the football trophies they have up, but if you are a woman that's 'showing off'. It continues to the workplace and it helps society stunt our growth.

But at the end of the day, there's nothing wrong with knowing your self-worth and being proud of it. That's why men hold the top dog spots, they're not afraid to talk their shit, and so, neither should we humbly. 

It's about time we pin up our successes, speak up our worth and demand we are paid by the expertise we are bringing to the table.

And believe me, I've been there riddled with imposter syndrome it is no easy fight to win, nonetheless, it's very possible.

Let me, for example, be just that, an example of how to fight it off.

I've always been a career kinda woman. I like the chase, the thrill of hitting the next goal, the self-gratification it gives me, and so I work very hard to keep getting it.

However, once I hit the point in the crazy world of journalism that I felt I had enough skills and confidence under my belt to lead a team or start my own, imposter syndrome hit. 

And it hit hard. Suddenly that next step of the ladder seemed impossible and I, a young woman in my twenties, should slow down and know my place.

It was September 2019 and after years of loving my career, and treating it as my everything, waves of self-doubt that this was it for me washed over.

My career has always meant so much to me so those thoughts at the time meant imposter syndrome completely took over my life - and quickly too.

While I had a mind clouded with crazy good ideas, I felt they were just that, 'crazy'. 

I kept thinking of all the times I had failed and I let that hold me back. I never even considered all the success I'd had up to that point. It was like it hadn't even happened and I felt like a fraud. But it had happened, and I am good at my job, I was just focusing on the negatives and letting that stop a future.

From September 2019 until March 2020 I would do my job as a reporter at a British tabloid, commute home, go to sleep, then go into work the next day feeling, quite honestly, like a zombie of my former self.

Drive, passion, motivation, all out of the window. Gone.  

I had no belief in myself that I could go further, or motivation to do it. As you need both, they go hand in hand, and so, I stayed stagnant.

Then lockdown hit and for commuters going into the city, it gave us time to breathe. To think. And then to act. Or if you didn't then, it really is never too late if you want different.

I spent those first few months reading all the books on my shelves that I've been meaning to read.

From philosophy, spirituality, culture, history, politics, self-help and development, to business and law.

Before lockdown, I read every day on my commute and prior to sleep, but I needed to escape and was filled with imposter syndrome so the idea of a self-help book always seemed like too much pressure in one go. It was way too daunting when already living a stressful life.

I was clinically depressed and knackered. I'd read horror fiction because it made my life feel really calm in comparison, and I'm pretty sure I'd always get weird eyes on the tube scanning the cover of what I was reading that day. 

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So, to stop me from going insane during the lockdown in a flat on my own as my dad works ridiculous hours, my therapist advised I see the spare time as a fun time to 'develop myself'. This included killing my imposter syndrome for good - something that only actually took three sessions to do, and likely will for you too.

She knew of my dreams and desires, she's also incredibly successful in her own right, and so she was the first businesswoman of many to kindly spill her tips.

This is where I learnt that to reach my full potential I'd have to kill off my imposter syndrome despite fully believing at the time that it was impossible to do. I thought you had to be born with this thing that makes you get up and go believing in yourself.

But it's not, and I now live my life getting up excited - bad days still exist, that's life - nonetheless I truly believe in my abilities now and that fuels drive and a 'go get it' plan of action.

Combating my imposter syndrome required focusing on all the success I've had. I thought about how I achieved it. Then it led me down a path of thinking of all the lessons I'd learnt. 

Then it clicked, failure should not fuel mine, or yours, insecurities and create a wrath of imposter syndrome within us. Failure is great because now I, and you, can do it all more intelligently with what we have learnt.

I and my therapist - and a shit ton of books - turned my mind from one filled with imposter syndrome to one that can grin those negative thoughts away in a second flat and return it with a kick-arse affirmation.

And I firmly believe anyone can kick imposter syndrome's butt. I really do with a change of mindset, if you do it for yourself, if you get away from the crowds, the sheep, and do it your way, you can.

You don't have to follow the cliches. Hey, I often meditate in the bath and it's fantastic.

If it means skipping a month of going out partying so you can get two to four therapy sessions focused on combating imposter syndrome, I can confidently guarantee you a promotion, dream job, and happier self in your not so far-away future. 

For those who care, after I combated my imposter syndrome I started treating VavaViolet Magazine like the business it is. Our ad revenue has since doubled, and companies come to us for paid sponsored posts. And I started another business that through word-of-mouth and talking my shit, has enough clients to take me full-time. 

It goes to show that once again, switching out your huge ASOS order for some books and therapy (and reading VavaViolet Magazine) was your meal ticket all along.

And VavaViolet Magazine certainly has zero imposter syndrome when it comes to giving our readers advice.

Please let us know in the comments if you struggle and what your new plan is to combat it!

Written by VavaViolet's Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Sophie Blackman.  

PS: If you are now curious about undergoing therapy to beat imposter syndrome (and many other mental problems), we highly recommend Senior Therapist Sally Baker. VavaViolet Magazine readers also get 10% off of Baker's services if you mention you came from us!


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