by: Sascha (South Africa)
I recently found the courage to start my Virtual Assistant business. I designed a logo, my daughter and I brainstormed my business name and tagline, and I opened my social media pages and started designing and posting content for them. This happened after almost a year of playing with the idea and wanting to start but just not having the confidence to take that first step.
Honestly? It was terrifying to launch my social media accounts and officially present my business to the public. Why? Why was this so hard for me? I am a qualified, highly experienced individual in my field. I produce excellent work and this is affirmed by my employers and clients. I step into situations when someone has been let down and sort the issue out with ease. So why was it so hard to launch my own business?
Impostor Syndrome is an internal experience of doubting your skills, talents and abilities, despite evidence to the contrary. You feel that at any moment you are going to be exposed as a fraud, and you have landed up here due to dumb luck.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Well to me it described exactly what I was experiencing. I know that I am good at what I do. I am an exceptional administrator, I easily learn new software and to a high level of competence, I love social media management and have developed these skills. Yet when it comes to putting myself out there, applying for a job, to starting my own business, I immediately question my abilities. Do I really have the skills for this job? Maybe it will require a bit more than I am qualified for? There is probably someone way more qualified and suitable for this position? Will they realize immediately that I’m in over my head? And it stops me dead in my tracks!
Looking back over my life I realize that I have spent so many years self-sabotaging due to this lack of belief in myself. Despite knowing my strengths and skills I have backed out of opportunities, I haven’t applied for dream jobs and I have never put myself in an uncomfortable position if I could avoid it. It doesn’t help that I’m an introvert and battle with depression and anxiety. I have so many regrets and so many missed opportunities. I have spent my life waiting for someone to realize that I am a fraud, that I’m not as skilled as I think I am and that I am going to be exposed and ridiculed.
But I have two teenage daughters who I want to set an example for. I want them to know that they can do anything they put their minds to. That as women they can support themselves and their families. That they can raise a family and have a fulfilling career if that’s what they choose.
Apart from setting a good example for my girls, I really want to create something that is uniquely mine. I have spent the past 20 years being a wife and mom and all decisions have been based on what is right for us as a family. I know want to do something for myself. I started this business because I want to provide a stream of income that will make month end less stressful for me because I need to prove to myself that I am able to do this and do it well. I want to look back in a few years and be proud of what I have achieved and have something to share that showcases me.
So what am I doing to step out of this mindset of Impostor Syndrome?
Well, this blog piece is me stepping out. When MariaanA from Moms Paying Moms approached me to consider writing a piece for MPM I immediately thought I had nothing to offer and certainly didn’t have the ability to write an article. But then I took a deep breath and decided I would give it a try. What did I have to lose, and I might even surprise myself?
I have tendered for a position that I’m not completely sure I meet all the specs for, and I’ve already gone onto step two of the interview process.
I am in the process of writing a proposal for a small business that I believe I can help enhance their social media impact, even though they haven’t approached me about this.
Am I still terrified? Yes.
Do I have to keep convincing myself that am suitably qualified for a project? Yes, I do.
Am I convinced that someone is going to discover I am a fraud? Yes, I am.
But none of this is true! So each morning I will tell myself: “I am not a Fraud. I am a highly-skilled, competent, and experienced professional whose services are sought out and who is frequently complimented on the quality of her work. I am not an impostor!” And I will step out into the day…
Sascha has a BCom degree from Rhodes University and has more than 15 years of working with NPOs. Experience in this field has ranged from personal assistance, office administration, website design, social media management and so much more. Sascha is the founder and owner of Perfectly Assisted, a virtual assistance agency. You can follow Sascha on IG @perfectly_assisted and find her Shop and services in the MPM Marketplace here