Misdiagnosed Determination: the Idea that Women are kept from Feeling Confident in the Workplace

In a recent Forbes article, writer, Homaira Kabir, argues that a majority of women, despite reoccurring successes, suffer from imposter syndrome. She states that, “from the board room to the Golden Globes” women continue to feel doubt when it comes to taking on new opportunities. I disagree.

Maybe it is my generation, maybe it is the women I associate myself with, or maybe it is my mother who instilled an immeasurable strength in me, but as a woman in the work force I for one, see no formal lack of confidence. In fact, what seems to reflect a lack of confidence, for me, actually represents an unmatched form of determination built on an idea that no matter how often we succeed, we can always get better.

Look, I get it, I’m 22, I am just out of college – how could I possibly know what the female populous feels when it comes to working in this day and age? Well let me tell you a story. When I was 15, I started working at a camp. By 19, I was working 80 hour weeks during the summer, literally running from camp to night shifts at a local burrito shop down the street, by 21 I had 4 jobs during the school year [not because I had to but because I wanted to work and I wanted to learn new skills] and two in the summer. Still 21, I went back to school to work 5 jobs, burned out – dropped to 4 and now I am down to 1 and loving it. Now, I don’t tell you this to impress you, I don’t tell you this because my life has some hidden workaholic intervention story, I tell you this because I am what Shonda Rhimes would call a ‘Titan.’ I work, I sweat, I burn out, I recover and I do it all over again. I am a Titan. I schedule myself to the 11th hour and then negotiate for a 12th. I am confident in who I am and I inspire the same in those around me because as a woman, and a millennial, I can’t afford to be anything less. So while I know that I am more the exception than the rule my point is that I wasn’t born this way. My point is that I learned to be driven from women around me; so when you tell me that something is keeping women from feeling confident in the workplace, I have to tell you that you are wrong – because I don’t see it.

Moral of the story? I’ve worked a lot. I’ve worked early mornings, late nights, stood until my feet ached and still managed to work on physical fitness. I rarely had weekends off and minimum wage was a lot lower than it should have been but still, no matter the job, my coworkers and I managed to push through. I’ve celebrated success and grown from failure, and – I get it – I wasn’t making salary, I am not a mom, but the places I worked were filled with a diverse number of people that had families and bills and illnesses and the women I worked with, well they were no less real than the ones I assume to have been categorized as the “many” in the Forbes article. So if your board room lacks confidence, then go to the back kitchen of a restaurant, or look at the girls on the line in a burrito shop – then tell me that these young women, these proud and inspirational women lack confidence, because I swear that they are not falling prey to being anything but themselves.

Tell me that these young women, these proud and inspirational women lack confidence, because I swear that they are not falling prey to being anything but themselves.

As a child I heard a quote. It was in the movie, “Akeelah and the Bee,” and it read – IMG_8606

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

The first time I saw “Akeelah and the Bee,” I was in my mother’s classroom. I remember that, around this time, my mom was training one of my classmates for the Scripts National Spelling Bee in DC, and I vaguely remember wishing that another movie was on – but for some reason, after ten years, this quote sticks with me.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

and how beautiful is that, how incredibly profound is it that our deepest fear is not that we lack something, but that we are so great that we cannot fathom the power of it?

As a young girl, I will admit I grappled with the fear that I would not be enough. I grappled with the idea that my efforts were not grand enough to succeed, but as a woman in the workplace, I have never let the fear of being less prevent me from trying to be more. I have never lacked confidence in a job, or a challenge, because I have always treated mistakes as lessons and successes as reasons to be humble.

InIMG_2714 a recent Forbes article a writer and life coach states that “many” women are kept from feeling confident in the workplace. I disagree – I think women are made to think that they lack confidence when in reality they are feeling what it takes to drive yourself toward greater and more humble victories.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that a majority of the jobs I have worked provided women with the ability to be confident leaders. I think the fields I have gone into build character, and build determination in women. I think that claiming that “many” women feel insecure in the work place and that they are kept from accepting their own brilliance is completely false because in 22 years, I have met more confident and capable women than I could name.
As a woman in this day and age I will never let my deepest fear be “that I am inatequate” because I know that I am and the women around me are more powerful than we will ever understand – and for a lot of us, dare I say, for many of us, that is our most powerful truth.

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