This blog is short, simple but empowering
8 years ago I was the only female in an office of domineering male co-workers, just finding out I was pregnant and that I suddenly had a brand new line manager who blocked me off from speaking directly to the two company executive I had previously had a great working relationship with. The business started with two executives, a coder and uber tech dude and me, the graphic designer. It was like this for almost 12 months as the business was in the startup, building stage. Near the 10 month mark a few more employees were put in place and by the 12 month point a new guy came on the block and amidst my first pregnancy he began to treat me like the lowest denominator in the office. Once I had got over the initial period of sickness and constantly running to the toilet, I got a bit more of myself back and began to make future plans for me and my little family whilst still driving a 45 minute drive each morning, facing discrimination in the work place and generally feeling a bit worthless in my job. At one point, around the 7 1/2 months pregnant mark, I was asked to make and carry up two flights of stares, hot drinks for 7 male members of the executive team and other employees. Little did they know that I was on the edge of pre-eclampsia and my body was starting to fail me. 2 weeks later I handed my notice in on the advice of my midwife and left the company for good.
That experience, plus others before that which had similar feelings towards me being a female designer in a male dominant office, have played a role in what I have and still have to overcome in my work and career right now.
It has led to and can, at times, still provokes imposter thoughts of worthlessness in my work.
Conquering those feelings
During those years I made an incredible friend who has been a steadfast supporter of all my work, a sounding board and an advocate for my career and without whom I think I may have given up long ago.
He is a great source of encouragement and he also has amazing creative thinking and has some wild plans and ideas for work and business that inspires me to be bold in my own work.
One of the greatest resources of overcoming imposter syndrome is having someone who knows you, encourages you and helps you to become better. They ask you the right questions in order for you to explore your skills and improve them without feeling inferior, they tell people about you and send you referrals and they give you advice, ask for your advice in return and never see you as a threat but a partner.
“Iron sharpens iron” is a profound proverb from the bible and it’s so true. Find someone who sharpens you when you rub shoulders and get far, far away from those who dull you down.
Conquering Imposter Syndrome
Feeling like an imposter in your field of work or your profession can be a heartbreaking and deflating reality that many people live with on a daily basis.
Fighting a male dominant workplace to get my voice heard ultimately cemented in my mind that I would never allow myself to be in that position again, that I would sacrifice a full time, well paid and secure job and exchange that to be self employed, with uncertain security but with a focus on raising my children with strong and equal values towards their piers so that they would never have to feel the way I felt all those years ago.
Sometimes we have to take a risk and do the unthinkable or the illogical thing in order to step out of an environment that is choking our creativity and lean into a step of faith where our passion, skills and character can shine.
I stand by this statement that you are unique and there is someone out there who needs what you have…hopefully there’s more than one someone.
Never give up on finding that yellow brick road, we should never feel obligated to stay in a place that squeezes the life from us but we should always feel free to find that wide open space where our skills are sharpened, enhanced, encouraged and promoted.
Find your iron man or iron woman
As i’ve already said “iron sharpens iron” and although I felt squeezed and deflated in this male dominated world, the person I mentioned above was actually a male co-worker. He didn’t work alongside me in the business/time I mentioned above, but in the years before he became a great friend, and once I left that company at 7 1/2 months pregnant, he encouraged me to kick start Peanut and has helped me immensely over the past 8 years.
You need to find yourself an iron man or an iron woman who can stand with you and sharpen you. Don’t let dullness be your every day; it’s time to sharpen up, let the sparks fly and shine out in all your uniqueness.
Don’t give into to those imposter feelings.
The world needs YOU.