I once heard a woman presenter share that she felt like a fraud in her own life. I have thought about that on many occasions and the picture on my old business card reflected that. It was an image of me as a caped superhero and on reflection I had to put on my cape to go about my life! Can anyone relate?
Going back to my younger years, I was taught not so ‘show off’ about achievements. I was told to pipe down when I had been recognised for something.
I loved acting at school maybe as it empowered me to be someone who I wasn’t. I remember once getting the lead role of Alice (Alice in Wonderland) for a drama group I was a part of. I was so chuffed and proud, (more so about wearing the fabulous costume I may add!) and I remember my parents not really being that interested or pleased for me. I pretended it was no big deal although secretly it was.
I remember not feeling confident as the performance approached and judged myself as thinking I was not good enough for the role and my nerves really took over at the start of the show. Mum and Dad didn’t even come to the performance!
I was only young at the time and I am sure there was a reason for their non-attendance such as work or another commitment.
On another point and as I noted in my case, kids are frequently not raised to stand proud, we seem to knock them down so they are not boastful. They then develop these habits as I did to conform into what others expect from them rather than fostering those skills of being confident and outgoing. Although I am not a psychologist, so I have no evidence on all this, just my thoughts.
Going back to the super hero analogy and why the Pink Book Club events came about.
I When I went out on my own in 2007, I thought that I needed to get out there and network to get clients and grow my business. This is where my super hero facade would come in!
I would put on my best business togs, high heels and full makeup and head on into town and network with professionals. I might add, my business I had set up was training and development, mainly in financial services and therefore I was networking in the corporate arena. I was with lots of other professional women, handing around business cards (way before social media) and selling myself and what I did. I felt like a fish out of water! I was trying to be Alice all over again and losing my confidence in my ability.
I am quite a confident person yet at these events I always felt shy and awkward and felt like a fraud in my own skin. Another demon within me was feeling that I wasn’t on the same level. I was judging myself due to my low level education and lack of a degree. What I saw was all of these successful, educated business women and I felt I was like a lower class citizen. No one was treating me that way, this is how I viewed myself in these groups.
I persevered and spent hundreds of dollars attending events and business workshops and each time I put on my super hero cape to be Nicola Facilitator Warrior Princess and go out there and do battle.
My business did not grow as a result of this and nor did my confidence in myself; a bit like how I felt about being Alice in the drama group.
So one day while moaning to a friend of mine (the 2nd Pink Book Club member Claire), she suggested I set up my own events to combat what I wasn’t enjoying. She highlighted I was a social person and great at facilitating connections so why not use those skills? Which is exactly what I did and the events were born. That is a blog story for another day!
I now realise, the reason I was not gaining business connections from those events was nothing to do with the story I have just outlined other than the fact I was not being my authentic self. I was donning my cape and believing that I had to be something that I wasn’t in order for people to like me and therefore they would want to do business with me.
Nowadays, I aim to be as authentic as possible with who I am and what I do. Yes, I do not have a degree, but I do now believe I am smart. I am a super hero as all of us are and my cape is because of my super powers as opposed to hide under. I am proud of my achievements and speak often about them especially in sharing with the Pink Book Club. It is amazing! While I do not take all of the glory for its success, I do bang my chest and say ‘yeah I did that!’ One other thing, I do not look for is the endorsement from others, I have learned to believe in myself, and trust my own intuition. I have on too many occasions in the past not relied on my gut instinct and ended up not being my ‘authentic self’. This has resulted in outcomes that have not been the best for me at the time.
I wanted to finish off with a post I recently wrote and a couple of quotes from Alice:
“You are wonderful fun and fabulous and have all of the tools within you to live the best life”.
And Alice said:
“It’s no good going back to yesterday, I was a different person back then!”
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
I am now believing that more and more each day and no longer feel a fraud in my own life!