WHAT’S MY NAME? DR. CARA EMILIA FALLIS (FORRESTER)
WIFE / MOTHER / DOCTOR
One of the biggest challenges in my adult life and starting out in my career has been getting out of my own head. When I was a kid, I was repeatedly complimented for my confidence and picked out as a natural leader. I took it for granted because nothing I was doing ever felt like it mattered in the grand scheme—so I just “gave ‘Er”, every time and in everything I did. Then as I grew, I started to “care” more about the endeavors I was setting out to pursue— and the fear of failing or embarrassing myself took over.
As rejections and failures started rolling in like they normally do at some point in anyone’s life, I lost confidence. I was more afraid to take risks. I realized the last couple years that in professional settings how I felt paralyzed at times. These were feelings would have been unrecognizable to a younger me looking at a grown up me. I noticed that a lot of women professionals were starting to write about “imposter syndrome”a— (look it up, thank me later), and I realized it’s not just me. Women specifically struggle with confidence as compared to men, even when competence between the two groups are at identical levels. How effed is that? Women often derive their confidence from knowing they are competent, whereas studies are showing that men consider competence as less of a prerequisite to their confidence, and instead are confident just because they believe in themselves. Knowing this made me feel like I could not allow myself to get sucked into this paradigm of putting the handcuffs onto myself or creating my own glass ceiling. Hell no.
Fast forward a bit and I can share a couple things that have been integral to building my adult confidence—
1) Follow the careers and read the books, social media posts, and listen to podcasts and interviews of powerful women, women you admire, and women with careers that are similar to your own. Chances are they will also share stories of challenge and obstacles and it will help give you a sense of community— if they can do this, I can. Some may even mentor you if you reach out. You have nothing to lose.
2) Dedicate some serious time to putting together a very polished CV. Get people you trust to review it and do industry-specific style research. Then proceed to read it often—on your low days like after rejections or to pump yourself up before an important meeting/pitch. It will help remind you that you are a badass, how much you’ve done, how hard you have worked, and how incredible your unique experiences have made you. You are NOT an imposter... you are meant to go and get whatever it is you’re after. And
if you don’t, trust me that if you look to the left and the right, you will find two other people who will take your spot simply because they were able to get out of their own head.