About a month ago, I received an invitation via LinkedIn to speak on a panel for a Columbia Women Rock Entrepreneurship event. I was not familiar with the organization but the organizer, a sophomore named Helen from my Alma Mater, was so put together that it compelled me to say yes. I was invited to share my experience and journey as an entrepreneur and share any thoughts I had on women empowerment.
When I arrived that night, I met Helen and asked her how she started the organization. She let me know that it was brand new- in fact, this was their first event, and so she was nervous nobody would show up. She herself was born in China and had only come to the United States for college last year. And here she was, the founder of an organization meant to empower young women. I was immediately impressed. As the seats started to fill I thought to myself, if only Helen knew that Harlem Run had started with just one member!
I spoke first about how to create Movements not Moments and opened up about how my personal struggles have really created a vulnerable and authentic community. The 3 women that followed blew me away - with their confidence, business experience, and openness about their stories. And that's when the self doubt rushed in - did I even deserve to be on this panel? Even as some of the speakers referenced impostor syndrome, I still had moments where I felt that I had found myself in the presence of company of which I was undeserving.
And so for me, that is the biggest point of reflection that I'm left with. Why do we do this to ourselves? On top of all of the other critiques of the world, we often stand in our own way, making our work all the more difficult. And I'm not saying this to receive more praise. If you read about impostor syndrome, you'll find that praise often exacerbates the problem. I do have a difficult time when people make me aware of my accomplishments - and I'm not faking modesty. It makes me uncomfortable. I believe that impostor syndrome, like comparison, is a thief of joy. It inserts harmful insecurities that can, if left unchecked, can lead to our own undoing.
I invite you to think about how impostor syndrome may be affecting you and maybe share with me ways that you have dealt with it in the comments below!