There’s only ever been two copywriters that I respect in Zimbabwe and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both of them. One of them in particular, I respect much more because she is also a Bulawayo girl who came to the city and made it. I followed her on everything and just wanted to be around her any chance I could get. She was my beacon of hope that I too could make it in the industry.
The agency she worked for is multi-award winning at the Ngomas. The Ngoma Awards are the advertising industry awards for Zimbabwe. I think Zambia calls them the same thing as well. The one year I got to go to the Ngomas, I saw her agency Beyoncé-at-the-Grammys. They just kept winning. I knew I wanted to work there, I mean who doesn’t like the winning team.
I was at my 3rd advertising agency stint when the message came in. They asked if I was interested in a copywriter position at the award-winning agency. Of course I was. They asked for my CV and portfolio. Simple enough right? Far from it. It took me 3 days to send those things to them. My moment came, this was the chance I was waiting for and I choked.
I hesitated. Self sabotaged and threw myself into unnecessary emotional dilemmas. One of them being, the place I’m working in right now is actually nice, I love the people. What if I get to other place and I don’t like the people. Where is the other place even? Right now I stay very close to my current workplace. Would I need to move? What if I hate it there?
I didn’t recognize it then, but this was the Impostor Syndrome. I had put this place on a pedestal and now that they were interested in me, I didn’t think I could make the cut. I kept thinking how I didn’t have enough experience. I guess in my mind I had always thought that when the time is right, I’d go to them. So when they sought me out I got spooked. I worked tirelessly day and night to dissuade myself from jumping at this opportunity. Deep down I just thought, what if you go there and the awards stop coming in. Stay here in safe harbor where this agency doesn’t pursue awards, they just charge top dollar for work.
According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, some 70 percent of people at some point in their lives will succumb to “impostor syndrome” … doubting our accomplishments or talents and possessing a nonstop fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”
The Impostor Syndrome will have you negotiating yourself out of the rooms you’ve earned your way into. It will have you overlooked and underpaid. All that self doubt will keep you stagnant and unable to grow. This will eventually lead to resentment, regrets and frustration.
When new opportunities come, I want you to say yes. My theme for this year is, “I’ll try it once.” I’m not gonna shy away from new experiences and the possibility of making new connections just because I don’t feel like I’m enough. I’m going to celebrate my little wins more and keep a journal of all my achievements for this year. When I feel the Impostor Syndrome kicking in, I’ll have a whole dossier of how the Devil is a liar. It’s scary but it’s also exhilarating. I feel so alive.
If you’re also struggling with this, I’d like to plug you onto the sermon which resurrected my dry bones. Watch it at least once, it will all finally make sense. And get well soon.