I bought and consumed Sheryl Sanberg’s “Lean In” yesterday in its entirety. For both male and female readers, Sheryl has launched the civil war of our generation, this is a quick and must read.
Rather than sit back and hope for people to recognise our wins, Sheryl implores women to stand up and demand to be seen.
One particular bit got me thinking.
“Dr. Peggy McIntosh gave a talk called ‘Feeling like a Fraud.’ She explained that many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made…This phenomenon of capable people being plagued by self-doubt has a name- the impostor syndrome. Tina Fey once explained to a British newspaper, “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania, and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh god they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud. Seriously, I’ve just realized that almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it.'”
This hit a strong loud and obnoxious chord in me. Sheryl Sandberg and Tina Fey feel this way too?! No way. The question that isn’t answered here is, how did our sex even begin to come to feel this way? Do men also commonly feel this? What circumstances, what cultures, and what archetypes can we draw upon to understand this deep rooted feeling of undue fraudulence?
This feeling plagues me all the time, sometimes it’s the reason I don’t do the things I’m scared to do. Sometimes it’s the way I start my sentences with people I’m giving advice to. Sometimes it keeps me from thinking bigger, and thus acting bigger.
What strategies allow us to move past the oscillations of fraud and into those of true success?