In trying to find something to write about that reflects aspects of my expertise, I came across writing prompts for each day of the year. I was in luck when this (almost-lovely weather-wise) mid-March I finally determined it is time to take the plunge (i.e., to take a risk in revealing that I actually do have something to add to the conversation of the day). I cannot express in words just how difficult it is for me to get started in writing, well anything, let alone express life as a working professional…someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector for many years. Even though I never know who “they” are, they say once one gets started, creating compelling content becomes easier.
Honestly, I realize the time to start this was months ago but starting now might actually be an ideal time to sort out the potential gems that roll around in my mind. I frame this initial prose as a safe place to launch into a topic that has strikes me as unique: that of impossibilities, or thoughts I believe without much conscious reasoning behind them that probably began in childhood. For this, I focus on the primary paradox that really has slowed down my progress, regardless of how it is framed. I want to say “enjoy” though that seems obnoxious. I am thrilled if you, the reader, glean something about your own self (in personal or professional roles), to recognize your internal judgements that make challenges seemingly impossible to face. Let us do this!According to a number of sources, the Imposter Syndrome affects roughly 70% of people at some point in their lives. First, I suggest perusing the The Imposter Syndrome Paradox: Why Feeling Like a Fraud May Be Your Strongest Assetby Robert Glazer (see: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertglazer/2018/06/29/the-imposter-syndrome-paradox-why-feeling-like-a-fraud-may-be-your-strongest-asset/#294e90841f7e). Second, I have felt like an imposter since my earliest work experiences (okay, not when working as a sandwich artist in my local Subway restaurant in high school…I was effective in that role without a doubt). As an individual who always felt safety in pursuing education rather than actually facing the (scary) world of work with ever-increasing responsibilities, the realization that I must appear to co-workers and superiors, has always been paramount in my work. That said, during my entire career, I face the tremendous fear (and truth?!) that I am simply an imposter. The popular concept of fake it until you make it is held close to my heart, which has not diminished over time. My fear is that I will not actually “make it” so it is best to put on a brave face while putting everything I have into whatever project or task assigned by leaders at the time. Only in the past four years (ironically directly after I received my master’s degree), has this feeling lessened. Of course, the Imposter Syndrome is not yet reduced to what I wish it was: a momentary thought or feeling that I can leave behind with a chuckle.
Though I cannot pinpoint why I fall into the trap of the negative and sometimes persistent thoughts of life as an imposter, I do know it is a myth within myself. The truth recognizes I have created effective deliverables in each of my positions, all of which have been backed up by constructive feedback from both superiors and co-workers. For example, I have presented a plethora of work products to all levels of staff and leadership at a number of organizations. Somehow, when presenting my concepts, ideas, or final deliverables to sometimes every layer on an organization’s organization chart, I do not have this paradox in my mind at the time. I have marveled at this forever. Why is it that prior to this, there is that uncertainty of competence…come to think of it, fears of incompetence haunt me too, a related concept, though obviously a different contemplation. Wow, does that mean I have another future topic to write about that I did not even need a prompt to start? Good deal! Sorry, I digress.
My point here is two-fold. One, I do relate (sometimes to an extreme) to the Imposter Syndrome. Second, I fight this oxymoron at every turn. Actually, over the years it is pushed farther away in the annals of my brain, which is a relief. This fact allows me to fight the negative messages that try to stump my progress, and in actuality, to my success and upward mobility as a nonprofit expert. See, writing was not so tricky that I could not accomplish this first initial post as a consultant. (You got it: I am telling myself this as I finish this writing.) Maybe this is not so hard? Maybe, just maybe, I am not an imposter after all!
Kami A. Hall believes nonprofit organizations are paramount to change societal tribulations. As the owner of KH Creative Consulting L.L.C., she provides analytical and creative consulting services to the nonprofit community. Kami’s passions include: animals and nature, comedy, diversity, music and attending concerts, social justice, and working toward the greater good in every challenge life offers. A lifelong learner who embraces change, Kami is fearless in embracing the unknown. She currently lives with her family in the Milwaukee Service Area.