Own Your Success
Last Friday started out as a normal day as usual. I was researching an idea that I had for a project I am working on and decided to take a break and catch up on my emails. To my surprise the subject line read “CPCS Certification Congratulations Letter”, I was ecstatic! I knew exactly what it was. Let me take you back. I earned my master’s degree in Community Counseling in 2011. I had many dreams of what my life would be like once I was fully licensed. Two years of graduate school, an unpaid 10-month internship and practicum, and a passing score on the National Counseling Exam. It took 6 weeks to receive my score from the exam and seemed like the longest time of my life. I checked my mailbox everyday knowing that it would take 6-8 week to arrive.
“I was waiting for more opportunities, a significant increase in pay, a lifestyle change, possibility of financial freedom, and confirmation that I can achieve anything that I set out to do.”
Have you ever been this excited before?
It was not just a piece of paper I was waiting on. I was waiting for more opportunities, a significant increase in pay, a lifestyle change to arrive in the mail, possibility of financial freedom, and confirmation that I can achieve anything that I set out to do. The day the letter arrived I was praising God in my driveway. I was so happy! The Oxford English Dictionary defines happy as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”. In your own personal experiences, you may have come to realize that being happy is a temporary feeling. If something good happens you feel happy. If something not so good happens you feel the opposite of happy.
I was happy and I wanted to share my news with everyone. What I did instead would be the beginning of many happy experiences that I would downplay for many years. I was happy for a moment and had plans for graduation. Right before I had to submit my application for graduation, I decided that it was not a big deal to walk in a cap and gown. Besides, I had done that already when I earned my bachelor's degree. I did not tell anyone, but my closest friends and I continued to act like it was not a big deal.
Now back to last Friday, I opened that email and immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my husband and closest friends. I was happy again. I thought about sharing my news on my social media platforms and then (drumroll please) dun dun dunnnnnn … I did it again. I changed my mind and told myself “it's not a big deal, many others have achieved this status. What do you have to offer?” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I have imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is the voice in your head that steals your dreams, successes, and your happiness. It tells you that you are not good enough; and achievements are good but compared to others with more education and experience it is not good enough. The term “imposter syndrome” was introduced by psychologists Dr. Pauline R Clance and Suzanne A. Imes who refer to it as:
”high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, [they] are convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”
Further research has been done by Valerie Young, who identified 5 subgroups of the imposter syndrome. They are:
· The perfectionist
· The superwoman/man
· The natural genius
· The soloist
· The expert
Check out her book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It.
What do I do if I have imposter syndrome?
Connect with others that support you and push to grow. Celebrate everything! No matter how small you think your success is, celebrate it anyway. Share with others and brag about yourself.
So here goes...I am bragging on myself tuh-day. Do not roll your eyes either LOL. I earned every letter in my credentials.
Tawaina Jones, MA, LPC, CPCS
· 2 years graduate school
· 10-month unpaid Internship/Practicum
· 3 years of Supervision to gain full, independent licensure
· Earned status as a Licensed Professional Counselor in state of GA
· Started a private practice to counsel others
· Earned status as Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor
To be continued...
How has the imposter syndrome shown up in your life? Comment below.