“But I also know that in order to continue to grow and challenge myself, I have to believe in my own abilities. I still face situations that I fear are beyond my capabilities. I still have days when I feel like a fraud. And I still sometimes find myself spoken over and discounted while men sitting next to me are not. But now I know how to take a deep breathe and keep my hand up. I have learned to sit at the table.”
-From the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
I read the above excerpt today while reading Lean In, a book that has spurred some controversy. I was interested in reading it not only because I am always fascinated by the stories and advice from professionally successful women, but also because I wanted to better understand what Sheryl Sandberg meant when she said, we can’t “have it all”. Turns out, just 38 pages in, Ms. Sandberg is inspiring me to take action in my life by way of redefining my inner voice.
Let’s take yesterdays post for example. Before I even took the first photo I was doubting myself. “I don’t look good in pink”, I thought. “I’m not thin enough to do a style post”, I convinced myself. “This was a horrible idea”, I said between shots. As soon as the other post went live, I compared myself, “they did so much better than me”, “Why didn’t I think of that”… I chalked the sweet comments I received up to people just being kind. I know it is a remedial comparison, but it’s not the only one that comes to mind.
I find myself holding back all the time though because of my self doubts, in business and in life. I have ambitious dreams, but hesitate to call them goals because I am afraid I can’t reach them. I’m afraid I can’t compete with people with higher degrees, with diploma’s from a more prestigious school, with the family life I may have one day, with the societal norms my dreams might challenge.
I don’t always take the safe road. I pushed my boundaries when I moved to London for an internship for three months following college. I pushed myself upon my return to the states to get one of the coveted internships at one of the few top IMC companies in Phoenix. Then something changed. I will save that story for another time. The important thing, is that girl with big plans and a bit of moxie started to come back.
She peeped her head out when she decided it was time to shake things up and move to California. She took another step forward by actually finding the right job and accepting it. In her next step she left family and friends to move to a place where she knew no one. Why am I talking about myself in the third person? Probably because, like Ms. Sandberg, I feel a little like a fraud, especially when acknowledging my own accomplishments.
So what is next? Well for one, I definitely need to finish the book and a couple other books sitting on my nightstand. Then I need to decide what I want to be when I grow up and pursue it with vigorous passion.
I’d love to hear from other women with big dreams/goals, women who have found personal/professional success and anyone else who is reading Lean In. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you are doing to lean into you successes.