“We shall overcome Imposter Syndrome”
Written by Darlene M. Steele
If asked, many black women would say they have encountered some form of imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is distrusting your competencies, believing you are not as adequate as others may see you. It’s feeling like a fraud or as if you’re incapable of being successful. Most of us have been there in one way or another. Maybe we’re given an opportunity and feel incredibly grateful and thrilled. So much so that we make comments similar to “I finally made it.” It reminds me of The Jefferson’s Theme song- “…moving on up to the east side. We finally got a piece of the pie”. When we achieve the unthinkable, we have self-doubt and say, “Can I do this? Do they have the right person? Am I capable? Do I have the proper skill set?” I’ve been there. In my experience as a Black woman in leadership, I’ve often struggled with it. I’ve consistently been the only black person in Caucasian spaces, and I assumed the opportunities were related to luck and not skill.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on this. Let’s try and figure out the root of these imposter thoughts. For Black women, it’s one of the last vestiges of a cruel system whose allegorical end we celebrate today. Slavery as a system is gone, but its specter persists in different forms. From an early age, society tells little black girls that they are not good enough and have no worth. Growing up, most Black parents had “the talk” with us early. We have to be better, work harder, and do more for visibility because doing the bare minimum is not enough. The media tells everyone that white is better, white is prettier, and white is right. We exist in spaces that were not made for us, which can significantly increase self-doubt. Culture influences how individuals thrive, whether at work or in their personal life. It is so important that black women continuously fight for representation in all areas. Mantras like “Black Girl Magic” and “Your Black is beautiful” uplift us. If we’re waiting for society to validate us, we’ll be waiting forever! We understand that Black women consistently feel less than their White counterparts in the workplace, even when many of us are more educated or have more experience. So, how do we break free of this negative mindset? How do we free our minds?
Freedom is the detachment of limitations, shackles, and boundaries, the antithesis of imposter syndrome. Of course, (Aunty Harriet Tubman,) once said, “I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” Our mentality can make us, break us, and shape us. Let’s overcome it together.
Here are a few ways to start reclaiming our minds, coupled with some inspiration from local triad authors and some soul-supporting spaces.
- Self-reflect and create a solid foundation that will enhance your ability to remove the imposter syndrome from your mindset. The first step is to acknowledge any self-doubt and don’t allow it to linger.
▪ Recharge: A Self Awareness Approach to Goal Achievement Paperback by Dr. Kellie MeChelle Dixon (Author), Dr. DeQuan M Smith (Foreword)
- Build your confidence by owning your greatness and capitalizing on your uniqueness. Identify your strengths, know what you bring to the table, and be yourself unapologetically.
▪ Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough Hardcover by Candice Marie Benbow
- Visual affirmations are vital to your daily self-motivation. Place positive affirmations on your bathroom mirror, car, workstation, or any place where it catches your eye at the start of your day. These affirmations will allow you to stay aligned with your purpose and make room for self-love.
▪ The love I have for myself increases my capacity to love others.
▪ I am always headed in the right direction.
▪ By shining my light, I help others shine theirs.
For more positive affirmations, check out Dr. Kellie M Dixon: Reclaiming Our Affirmations: A 30-Day Renewal or visit “Balanced Black Girl,” where you can thrive in self-love:
- Black women need to be supportive of each other. Seek out or create spaces and opportunities for us to thrive. Start a book club, a travel club, or even a social support group (themed for Black women, mothers, professionals, or whatever you dream of). Whether professional or community-driven, we need environments where we feel comfortable being our entire selves. We can uplift, inspire, build confidence, build trust, build unity, and network with each other on all levels.
Some Local Black-Owned Spaces:
Other Suns Events Center (indoor and outdoor space available)
3 Layers Cakery (indoor space)
Sweet Potatoes & Miss Ora’s Kitchen (indoor space)
Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe (indoor space)
- Every black woman should have a therapist and self-care opportunities.
Free yourself. Be encouraged! Remember the words of Freedom by Beyoncé, ” A winner don’t quit on themselves.”
Signing off ~ Steele Speaking,
Darlene M. Steele