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New Girl: Feeling Like An Imposter

One thing they don’t tell you when you return to work is that the first week is the honeymoon period. You gallop off with your headphones on, absolutely loving that little bit of time just for you. Being able to waltz into a cafe to grab a morning coffee, without worrying that the toddler will kick off and want to run around. You start work again and enjoy talking to adults about things other than sleep, weaning and why she just won’t nap. You’re kind of elated, if not slightly uncomfortable as to why it’s been such a seamless transition…aren’t you supposed to be crying in the toilet on your first day?

And then week two strikes. The adrenaline has worn off a little and was probably left somewhere on the train journey back from work. The realisation that this is it suddenly dawns on you – running from A to B, commuting the shit out of life, and never quite feeling like you’ve given your all at home or at work is becoming the norm already. Work becomes tougher as you have already passed your first week and are expected to be firing on all cylinders. But you feel teary inside…it’s too tough, you should be at home and not here. You miss those mother-daughter moments together, which at the moment seem all too few.

Gif from Mean Girls when Cadie walks into the cafeteria and says 'Jambo' but no one says hi

Mandatory Mean Girls reference, obvs

That was this week for me – full of anxiety and a little bit of a struggle if I’m honest. My mind has been filled with self-doubt and inadequacy that I’m not cracking it quick enough; I’m not as up to speed as I should be. As my eyes fill with tears that I’m wishing to just go away, I remind myself that it’s so often like this when I join a company. My job is intense and that feeling of being the new girl, feeling awkward at bothering people with a million questions, are things are totally forgot about. I always see my previous jobs through rose-tinted glasses, I cherry pick the best moments and forget about the bad. I suppose that’s human nature to be optimistic, but this week I was reminded that it can be really tough.

What I’m suffering from is something I read about on Mrs Helicopter Writes Facebook page…it’s called The Imposter Syndrome. As soon as Jess mentioned this, I immediately related to it as something I go through in my job every single time and I don’t know why.

The Imposter Syndrome is when someone can’t internalise their successes and convince themselves they are a fraud and do not deserve their success.

When I started this current job, knowing I am prone to this, I vowed to myself to be more confident and assertive; yet here I am. It’s that feeling of not being good enough at what you do, feeling like you are a fraud and were given the job by accident. This is something that personally always baffles me, as I have worked my way up the tiers of jobs in my field – I’m not at the top, but I’m closer to the top than the bottom. And yet my behaviour doesn’t reflect how far I’ve come. I constantly doubt my abilities, apologise for things that go wrong even when they are not my fault and don’t feel I can input that much into meetings.

I don’t know why I feel like this, I can’t make sense of my anxiety to always be cracking it with my job right from the beginning. But today I drew a line in the sand and told myself off. I’m usually such a positive person and this is all so out of character for me. Where has this girl come from, who doubts every decision that comes her way and feels nervous talking in front of a room of colleagues? I don’t know who she is but I’m determined to put her in the corner. I’m determined to find a little bit of confidence and believe in myself again.

Plain black background quote on white writing, reading "it's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're not."

We’re all faced with challenges every day, whether it’s going into the office and showing your colleagues what you’re made of, or being an amazing mum on only 3 hours (or less!) sleep. Or maybe it’s working out those magical foods that your toddler WILL eat. Some days are tough and full of nothing but challenges, and the truth is it’s hard to say “just believe in yourself a bit more”…like you have a magic wand that will make it all better. But I want to start with what I know, before assuming what people think of me and am taking my new positive self into the office this week!

This Mum's Life
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  1. October 10, 2016 / 7:36 am

    Oh Bridie, I’m sure you’re doing a fab job. It’s so difficult going off to work and having to perform when you’ve had zero sleep and are missing the little one, but you’ll get there. #tribe

    • October 10, 2016 / 7:50 pm

      Thank you lovely – it’s a totally different story now when I’m sleep deprived! I’m sure it will get easier with time 🙂

  2. October 10, 2016 / 10:36 am

    My confidence took a knock when I was made redundant. My boss kept assuring me it was nothing I’d done, it was just the way things are right now and 300 of us had to go. But it’s tough to shake the feeling! Now I have Piglet I’m reluctant to go back to work until he is in school. I can’t face being away from him to go to a job where I know I’ll be twitchy all the time that I’m not doing things right. I have a Masters Degree, with distinction, in Engineering. I KNOW I can do it…. deep down. But it takes some time to build yourself up and find your groove again #marvmondays

    • October 10, 2016 / 7:53 pm

      Oh sorry to hear your experience – it’s so tough when your confidence is knocked. It’s such a different world but I think if it’s right for you, you’ll get there in the end. Thanks for commenting x

  3. October 10, 2016 / 10:55 am

    Oh I do feel for you – it takes time to adjust to any big changes so go easy on yourself for now. I hope writing the post has helped a little and this week has started off more positively for you. We’re our own worst critics, sometimes we just need to silence that little gremlin in our heads!! x

  4. October 10, 2016 / 11:28 am

    I totally get that feeling. I feel bad that you do also, but relieved I’m not the only one! #AnythingGoes

  5. October 10, 2016 / 11:52 am

    Oh hun, I am so sorry to read that you have had a difficult second week. It is so tough trying to balance everything. I had never heard of that imposter syndrome but it sounds like you have hit the nail on the head. I too have always had that. When I was in teaching I was consistently rated “outstanding” by Ofsted. However, every single time I told myself that it was a fluke and that I just been lucky. The same thing happened when I secured promotions. You would have thought that I would have learnt but I still do it now with my blog. I think we need to spread some positivity around! You are clearly really good at your job and the only thing holding you back is you. Remember my offer of being your virtual PA, I am always here with a coffee for you, should you ever need to talk xxxx

    • October 10, 2016 / 7:56 pm

      Thank you so much – it’s so hard not to be critical of yourself and almost easier to convince yourself that it’s luck and you don’t deserve it. I’m so glad it’s not just me that feels that way…I do it with my blog too! Now to building up that confidence….we can do this! Xxx (ps: you’re my first port of call when I get to have a PA ;-))

  6. October 10, 2016 / 12:54 pm

    This reminded me so badly of when I returned to work after Tigs. I’m not sure if people thought less of me as I was now part time, demoted and a Mum, but I felt so menial compared to my pre-baby managerial role, and I just couldn’t shake it. I think in all honesty it’s partly the fear of that again thats stopping me going back to work and embracing life as a SAHM! I can’t imagine how much harder it will be starting again in a new company. I live by the motto though that it’ll all come good in the end. It will for you too hun. xx

    • October 10, 2016 / 12:56 pm

      PS #bigpinklink

  7. October 10, 2016 / 4:26 pm

    Oh no I’m sorry to hear your second week wasn’t so good as the first. It must be tough, especially with the commute and lack of sleep. You can do this! I hope this week is better for you. x #MarvMondays

  8. October 10, 2016 / 8:11 pm

    Imposter syndrome sucks! I’m sure you are awesome at what you do, hope you feel better about it all soon! I go back to work next weekend after maternity myself, I am dreading it. I have reached the point after my second maternity leave where I’ve realised just how much I’d rather be a sahm this time, but we can’t afford that. I’m a little concerned I will no longer be able to adequately wear the mask of customer service and might actually tell a rude customer where to go! x #bigpinklink

  9. October 10, 2016 / 9:11 pm

    So sorry to hear you had a touch time on your second week back to work. I think this is all normal really. If you think about it, you have been away and completely absorbed with being a mummy so it is only normal you now feel out of the loop but I’m sure it won’t be long until you are striving and back to being positive and confident in your ability. x

  10. October 10, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    You have absolutely every right to be there in that job – you got it for yourself fair and square and you’re brimming with talent and skills. Honestly, it just takes a bit of time to adjust, cut yourself some slack and remember that this is a brand new job you’ve gone into, you’re not ‘just’ returning to your old one. You’re amazing. Internalise that success at once, young lady! Xxx

  11. October 10, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    Aw, Bridie. Sorry you’ve been struggling after the honeymoon period at work. I’ve heard of impostor syndrome because one of my friends told me I was suffering from it with my last job…I thought people would discover I hardly remembered anything clinical and I was rubbish at my job. It helped to realise it was ‘a thing’ a known syndrome. We need to see ourselves through other people’s eyes…less critical eyes. Well, I think you are marvellous and I do hope you find your groove soon!

  12. October 11, 2016 / 8:40 am

    Loved the quote – that is so true! I am sorry to hear that you’re feeling this way and hopefully your little telling off to yourself will beckon the positivity back. I feel the same way too and I know it is only my own perception which is holding me back and the hard part is letting that go. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  13. October 11, 2016 / 2:38 pm

    I really felt for you reading this. That awful feeling that comes over us that we know is the ‘imposter syndrome’ can be so debilitating can’t it. Every thing sensible about us goes out of the window in favour of self-sabotage. I bet you are doing bloody brilliantly though and I’m by the time you read this I’m also guessing someone at work will have told you that. I do always find that following these periods of self-doubt, I come out with so much more oomph so I’m hoping that’s the same for you Bridie. Hope you manage some sleep in the meantime. That always makes things seem far worse.

  14. October 13, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    Brilliant post, loved the quote and I really admire your honesty. I’ve got a challenging thing coming up and I think you’ve given me a bit of virtual oomph so big cheers for that and I hope your next weeks at work feel better. Awesome 🙂 #coolmumclub

  15. October 13, 2016 / 4:57 pm

    Me again popping back from #coolmumclub… thanks for linking!!

  16. October 14, 2016 / 4:43 am

    Hi Bridget, love your honesty and I can totally relate. I may not go out to work, but there are times I find myself in a position when I feel uncomfortable and doubt myself. I often find myself having to give myself a pep talk to convince myself that I do actually know what I am talking about or am as good as anyone else.

    I hope the new positive you shines through in the office and the daft thing is that no one else probably has the faintest notion of how you feel.


  17. October 15, 2016 / 12:04 am

    Oh lovely, I remember feeling and experienceing exactly the same things after I went back to work the first time. Its a tough juggling act to get to grips with, and that feeling of never really being able to give 100% at work or home never really goes away, but you find a way to get comfortable with the new reality. Its totally worth it though once you get into a rhythm – the best of both worlds 🙂 Hope you start to feel more settled over the next few weeks. Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

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