Updated: Jan 13
As someone who has experienced imposter syndrome, I can attest to the unique challenges that come with transitioning from leadership to an individual contributor role and vice versa. I often found myself coaching and teaming up with my direct and indirect reports on this very topic in the past.
When I initially transitioned to an individual contributor role in January of 2022, I was faced with a new set of insecurities that I had not experienced in recent memory. I was no longer the one making the decisions and leading the team, but rather, I was now part of a team and responsible for my individual part. I’ve always considered myself a “team player” but know that I have thrived as well working solo.
As a neuro-divergent “GenX’er”, I found myself getting caught up in a “chain of command” mentality and shying away from making decisions in an effort not to “step on toes” or “stay in my lane”. I was worrying, overcompensating, and overthinking (overthinking even for me). I was so worried about accidentally doing something that wasn't in "my lane" that I got in my own way.
I began to recognize that I was in my own way about 4 months into my new role. Even after recognizing it, I was still searching for “my lane” without realizing that my place and lane were exactly where I was. After recognizing this and regardless of logic, I was still subconsciously contending with imposter syndrome. It sounds so irrational today but at the time it was my reality.
I've wanted to write about “How I Overcame Imposter Syndrome in 5 Easy Steps” or something resourceful like that to help others. I will share some tips below along those lines but want to acknowledge that everyone has their own journey and it is different for all of us. I struggle with saying that I overcame it. In reality, I made a decision to stop getting in my own way. I've consciously stopped listening to the negative imposter syndrome monster that likes to show up from time to time.
This past Summer (about 6 months into my role), I had an epiphany. I was hired because I am me. Being Rachel Kitty Cupples professionally (and personally) can be exhausting at times and has been most of my career. I've masked my neuro-divergence for all but a few years of my career (less than five). My professional experiences overall led me to where I am today. Like everything, with the sweet comes the sour. Yes, I gained a ton of experience spanning the automotive, SaaS, Staffing/RPO, and Non-Profit/Social Enterprise industries but I also gained a ton of baggage from these experiences.
There is no perfect job, perfect boss or leader, or perfect organization to work for – perfection is an illusion. When I realized I was limiting myself, I began to work towards getting away from feeling like an imposter. I needed to stop it. It dawned on me that I was potentially “blowing my opportunity” by letting imposter syndrome stifle me at the first organization in my entire career (to put that into perspective – I turn 45 this month) that truly hired me for ALL of me. Textio hired me knowing that I have Lupus, I am a single mother, and I am neuro-divergent. They hired me because I AM excellent at what I do, I am adaptable, and have the capacity and eagerness to grow and learn further. In reminding myself of this over and over - until I believed it again, I was able to start finding my true inner Wonder Woman again. It was embarrassing at first to admit to myself, I had lost my way and forgotten whose daughter I was. Forgetting that I am not only a recruiting SHEro, but I am Rachel Kitty Cupples - a self-proclaimed descendant of the Amazons, and a practicing warrior for inclusive hiring and DEIB.
It is my one-year anniversary at Textio. I’ve learned more about myself and sourcing in the past year than I have in the 7 or so years leading up to becoming a Textio. Growing is hard, it’s uncomfortable - it is how you know you're growing sometimes. If evolving was easy, everyone would do it. Imposter syndrome loves to show up just as you’re about to grow and sometimes in the midst of that growth. The reason I am still a Textio today is that in spite of the imposter syndrome and missteps while learning, I was hired because I am me.
We all have different journeys and so many varying layers. Imposter syndrome had a hold of me for longer than I am comfortable admitting in 2022. I can do hard things. I am a survivor and have been since as far back as I can recall. As uncomfortable and scary as it is to share this with the universe – thank you for being here and supporting me. Imposter syndrome is no match for me in 2023 and beyond. It can be a difficult experience when it creeps up and often we do not realize it’s happening to us until we are in the thick of it or outside of it. The point is to identify and acknowledge it as soon as possible while not beating yourself up over the timeline.
5 Things I Learned While Identifying & Battling Imposter Syndrome in 2022
Recognize that imposter syndrome is "normal": It was important for me to remember that imposter syndrome is a common experience and that many people, even successful and accomplished individuals, experience it. While it may be "normal", it is still a lie.
Focus on your strengths: In my individual contributor role, I found that focusing on my strengths and the skills I offered helped me feel more confident in my abilities. When I am not using all my strengths I tend to find less joy in my work (I learned that in 2022). What an excellent realization this has turned out to be.
Learn from others: I also found it helpful to learn from my colleagues and ask for their guidance and advice. This helped me understand my role better and also helped me build a support system within the team when I needed to lean in a little harder in advocacy for myself.
Be open to feedback: As a recruitment professional, I've found it helpful to be open to feedback from my team, industry professionals, job seekers, and leaders. It can be hard to trust leaders with feedback when the feedback you've received in the past has not always been useful or actionable, let alone unbiased. With unbiased and actionable feedback, I am able to understand where I needed to improve and also grow in my role. I am grateful for Textio's performance feedback point of view and now our performance feedback tool that we launched just last quarter to help other organizations hit the mark on performance reviews.
Recognize your own achievements: In both my leadership and individual contributor roles, it has been important for me to recognize my achievements and accomplishments - no matter how small they may seem at the time. Sometimes what seems to be the smallest thing ends up being the biggest when you look back.