Being a bold, successful, intelligent woman can be quite complicated – especially in the professional realm. I’m sure the feminists of the 70’s and 80’s thought we would have made more progress by now for gender equality. I remember being called bossy when I was young, I probably was (Ha!)… but why? Maybe it was untamed, yet to be developed leadership skills spewing everywhere. Girls learn to reproach other girls based on our learned cultural norms. Males are liked more for their success while females are liked less. I am reading an EXCELLENT book called Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg which discusses the research behind these claims. She discusses the pay and power gap between men/women in the workplace. In chapter 2 she tells the story of a woman feeling like a fraud surrounded by other professionals; she was anxious, just waiting for others to discover that she truly didn’t belong, or did not have what it “takes” to be there. Reading this was as if someone had climbed into my soul and peeled away this layer to uncover a hidden belief about myself.
After all, if anyone finds out I’m a human with flaws – it’s all over – right?
It sounds ridiculous, but there is something about women that causes us to err on the side of being humble &/or insecure (either one or maybe a little of both?). Where most men believe they are superman, having endless confidence, women often second guess themselves and would rather down-play their strengths than claim them. I do not believe this is an innately female thing to do, we are taught to do this in our daily life.
Within the past few years I have examined my beliefs about myself and about the world. I am seeing how I in some capacity believed I was a fraud – don’t ask me why or how – I always earned excellent grades, held great jobs, was promoted frequently and received positive reviews. Yet, I was always downplaying my skills and my confidence because it was not received well by some people. When I read about the woman’s experience in Lean In, it allowed me to acknowledge the lie I had believed (without even really knowing it!) for years and just as important, why I had been living within this belief. Freedom surrounds me as I have unveiled this imbalance.
I started this post this morning and was not sure if I would share it. I was thinking to myself that I keep referring to other people’s material… is that really blog appropriate? I still don’t know. But then I decided to watch some TED talks, and I clicked on one by Amy Cuddy titled “Your body language shapes who you are”. It was an EXCELLENT video about body language and how changing your posture can change your mind. Starting at about 15:30 she discusses this concept of feeling as if you’re an impostor and how you can fake it til you become it. This was just too much of a coincidence to pass by considering I just read about this so I am posting both resources so that others may learn the freedom that comes with giving yourself due credit, as well as faking it til you become whatever it is you’re passionate about being.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
Whatever you choose to do – make it healthy and do it well. Don’t hold back! Do not let broken people keep you from excelling to fulfill your purpose. The one’s who matter will support you in your healthy ventures, and if you find you are unsupported, take a long look at your choices and honestly discern for yourself why that is. There are more important things than having a lot of friends, but the ones who love you and truly advocate for health and wellness are worth having around!