Last month, on a Saturday morning and bleary-eyed from the night before, I took a deep breath, opened a door and walked into a room. I knew a few people, which helped my nerves, but looking round at who else was there, my heart sank and imposter syndrome kicked in hard.
I’m part of a long-term project and this was the first meeting. I was there because I’m in charge of the website; a job that many people can do, as well or better than me, but I was the one who was asked. I’m very good at what I do, but my skill set isn’t so niche that I’m the only one who can do it.
So why the imposter syndrome? In the room were people with years’ of experience in this project space. And I have very little to none, only getting involved this year. I recognised many of the faces from having seen them in action and it intimidated me to a huge extent.
But, over the course of the weekend, I realised that what I lack in direct experience, I make up for in other ways — ideas, enthusiasm, not being scared to ask “what if” or, “I don’t understand the terminology”. Getting people to explain what they mean in different terms also helps them to crystallise ideas and concepts, so it’s a win all-round.
And by the end of the weekend, I was 95% convinced I deserved to be in the room. That’s a great thing because this is a long-term project which will take several years to come to fruition. I’m going to be spending a lot more time with these people and that’s a gift: it forces me to up my game, be better at what I do and moreover, I can learn from them and that can only be a good thing.
Finally, I realised that because I work for myself, from a home office because of my health, it’s very isolating. Joining a project such as this one gets me involved with other people, working in teams, cross coordinating ideas, talking, communicating and being part of something bigger than myself. I get to riff of other people and rediscover parts of who I was before I had to give up employment. It reminds me that yes I am capable, articulate and yes, I do deserve to be there.
It was an intense weekend but so valuable in making me realise there’s more to it than the four walls of my office.