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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Recovering from Imposter Syndrome

The other day I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Bridget Leonard on my podcast.

Dr. B (as I call her) is the President-Elect Education chair at Wayne County Community College. She started out as a certified nursing assistant and is now a chief nursing officer, and her passion is absolutely contagious. I was thrilled to speak to her about imposter syndrome because I respect her courage, transparency, and motivation very much.

Her story is really amazing. Dr. B was candid about the struggles of growing up as a darker complexioned African-American woman. She had teeth that needed correcting, big lips, and weighed 300 pounds. As a result, she often felt like people were looking at her and judging her, and she spent a lot of time focusing on making sure her work was as perfect as it could be so that people wouldn't look at her outside appearance.

And I know from personal experience that that kind of background is a perfect breeding ground for imposter syndrome. Even though she was a successful business person, she sat in on board meetings, she was climbing the ladder, she had to fight just to find her voice. Because of the way society treated her and the limiting beliefs she learned, she doubted herself before anybody else could even bother.

If you've read my other blogs or listened to my Facebook lives, you may know that Dr. B's story resonates strongly with me on a personal level. I'm a Black woman as well, and I was bullied growing up for my lazy eye and my teeth. Even when I was successful (heck, I have a doctorate!) I still doubted my own worth.

Imposter Syndrome is so harmful in big part because it gets us to become complicit in our own self-limitations. One of the big pieces of advice she gave me during this call was to know your worth and give yourself praise.

How many times have you looked in the mirror and only thought about critical things? I find that it often starts with something surface level ("oh there's toothpaste on my shirt") and progresses to something much more critical ("I'm sloppy and careless"). We need to look in the mirror and have some real talk with ourselves about the things that we like and are proud of. You have a voice, and you can use it to talk to yourself and speak kind words over yourself.

Talking to Dr. B was so invigorating because she has such joyful energy. I asked Dr. B what helped her come to a place in her life where she was able to move past that imposter syndrome, and I loved her answer.

"It's like, you know what? Tomorrow's not guaranteed. I'm living each day to the fullest. I have all of this inside of me. I'm letting it out."

Talk about a joyful approach to life, right? And I completely agree; one of the best ways to get over imposter syndrome is to live your best life. That isn't necessarily having a six-figure salary and a corner office, it's finding the work that's meaningful to you and doing it with people you care about. Your life's work is a personal decision, and as she said, you have all that light inside you, you just need to decide what direction to point it in.

If you want to hear more from my conversation with Dr. B, head over to my podcast and tune in to our conversation to hear the rest. If you want more personal guidance, let’s connect! Click here to get a consultation on my calendar.

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