Today I presented on impostor syndrome for CUL’s career development days. Here is the Ada Initiative impostor syndrome training that I used for preparing for the presentation (and as a basis for my slides).
One of things I talked about today was how exposing your process to others can help them better understand that they are not alone in needing to learn and struggle with their work. Rather than just seeing your fabulous product and being left to wonder how you make things so easily, people benefit from seeing how you brought your project into being.
Given that, I wanted to write about what it is like for me to present. Right now, it’s 830p.m. Six hours after my presentation ended. I still feel terrible. I feel like I did something awful today. I feel like my body is still a little nauseous and like my brain still can’t quite calm down. Every time I present, I spend the hours afterward telling myself that I don’t ever have to do it again. That that’s that. Never, ever, ever again if I don’t want to.
Sometime later I get to have a feeling of relief that it’s over. Sometime later after that (much later), something will come up and I’ll feel the need to stand up and talk again. And I’ll be so invested in whatever it is that I want to talk about that I’ll forget what it feels like when I present. What’s missing in there is celebration and ownership of giving the talk. Because there is so much anxiety wrapped up in all of it, I can’t think about it too much.
Once the relief sets in I have to shove the whole event out of my mind and almost pretend it never happened, in part so that I’ll be able to do it again another day. Obviously this is something I need to keep working on, I worry a little that if I don’t work on it, sometime I will really make good on the promise to never do it again and I don’t think that would be a good thing.If you’re reading this and thinking about how hard it is for you to present, I hope you’ll also keep talking and trying and doing it again. I know it’s hard, I feel that way too.