Feeling like a fraud — and I’m not the only one

I am a fraud.

That’s been my internal monologue for the last few weeks as I gear up for my summer internship. I’m excited and also nervous about the summer and that manifests itself as a little voice in the back of my head that says things like, “This is the time you are going to fall flat on your face. This time they’ll figure out you’re not as smart or as talented as they thought. They’ll find out you’re a fraud. And then…”

Dum-dum duuuuuum (imagine scary, ominous music here).

I’m not really sure what comes after the “and then.” And then I’ll be a failure? And then my professional life is over? And then I will be mocked and ostracized? And then…?

I might be more worried about this if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a familiar feeling. Each time in my life that I started a new and slightly scary professional adventure, I had this same feeling that I didn’t deserve it and was going to fall flat on my face when “they” figured that out.

When I got the full scholarship to undergrad – fraud.

When I got my internship at the Wall Street Journal – fraud.

When I got my first job – fraud.

But each time, I succeeded despite my initial trepidation. I look back on those moments and wonder why I ever doubted myself. I kick myself for being such a worrier.

But it doesn’t keep me from doubting myself all over again now. And, until I started talking about this feeling with some women at Darden, I thought I was the only person who felt this way. Turns out I’m not. I’m so not. Almost every woman I talked to could finish my “fraud” thought for me. My very unscientific sample suggests it might be something that a lot of women deal with.

But that’s not comforting news. In fact, it’s frustrating. Why I can’t I and all the other awesome women I talked to completely banish that feeling and just assume we’ll do a great job because we always have? My boyfriend said he looks at new ventures in a totally different way – it’s intimidating but he knows he’s always “crushed it” in the past, so there’s no reason to doubt himself now.

I’m jealous of that feeling.  I want to go in expecting to “crush it” instead of expecting to be crushed. I want all the women I know to go into their new ventures with that exact same feeling. Because we have crushed it. Again and again and again. There’s no reason we won’t do it again.


About missmba

What happens when a language-loving, mathphobic liberal arts major goes jumps on the MBA train. Follow my adventures at a top 20 business school.
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