wood panelled imposter wagon

I have an opportunity to speak on a panel, but my imposter syndrome has a raging boner at the thought of it.

There’s a business event coming to Vancouver in November, and the organizers have reached out to me via some co-workers to see if our company would be interested in participating. I made the executive decision of “ya, totes”, because I love things like this: the event is aimed at girls in grades 9-11 to introduce them to women in a variety of professional careers. Technology is just one of the areas the event will cover, and will feature a panel full of women from a few local tech houses.

I told the organizers that I’d be happy to help them find a panelist or two from our Product Development department, and asked if they were looking for junior, senior, or anything in between. There are a ton of awesome women I work with, and I provided some of the areas I thought might be of interest, including my own position. I mentioned that I’d volunteer myself if they were interested, but as an industry professional (and “professional” is used so loosely it’s falling down and I have to constantly hitch it back up or my bum will show) who took a non-traditional route to get where I am today, I didn’t think I’d quality.

I’m not being all coy about this – I seriously don’t think I’m qualified to talk to anyone about how to get where I am. For starters, I don’t know where I am. My title has nothing whatsoever to do with what I do on a day-to-day basis – I don’t actually even use it, because it’s so misleading. I didn’t go to university. College, sure, but then there’s my secret shame which I think is hilarious. Also, I’m short and fat and I dress funny. I have blue hair, speak in pop culture references, and can’t go three sentences without swearing up a storm. That’s just the surface, too – as far as my job goes, I don’t think I do anything particularly special. I just .. make things go. No one needs to hear about that.

To my surprise, the organizers emailed me back and said I’d be perfect for the technology panel. Wait, what? Why?

I’m not sure what to do here. On one hand, panel! That would be neat. And even though I’m terrified of kids, it amuses me to continually organize or participate in events aimed at them. But .. what if I end up on a panel that’s all “our panelists today are Lizbeth Genius, CEO of Amazing Technology; Susan Saviour, Director of Complicated Surgery at Adorable Anime-Eyed Orphans Inc.; Chloe Super Engineer, Lead Developer of Life Changing Widgets, and this weird fat girl who fucks around with JIRA and makes sure things are spelled properly.”? My ego doesn’t need that. They’ll probably all be wearing pantsuits, and I’ll show up in a Hello Kitty dress with a lunchbox for a purse. Hell, I’d probably have the reverse intended effect: after seeing me on a panel, girls will become disillusioned with the business world and start home businesses selling canned goods, or maybe join a MLM scheme. Oh, god. I’m going to be the end of the advancement of women in technology! I can’t possibly sit on this panel! Nobody wants to sell candles and costume jewellery out of their living rooms!

While it MAY be true that my imposter syndrome needs some drugs and a nap, I still think no one would be interested in what I have to say. I’d love to be able to say that I am inspiring and professional and encouraging, but .. well, all of the above. Any idiot could do what I do.



2 thoughts on “wood panelled imposter wagon

  1. There’s a lot of impostor syndrome talk going around in my industry right now it seems. There’s been talks at big conferences. I’ve been on a podcast that a bunch of people sounded off about they’re thoughts about it. So yeah that’s a thing blah blah blah.

    But anyways, I think showing your none traditional way to where you currently are is possibly even more important than the regular “go to school for what you want then get a job in that thing”. That regular way is going to be presented to those kids over and over again. They need to see that it’s not the only way. And that the freaks and weirdos (mean that as a complement) can and will get good interesting jobs. I think it’s important to stand up and show those kids you can be who ever you are and succeed with out compromising.

  2. Yes, this! I’m a total lurker and not in tech, but I am middle-aged and in the process of trying to jump from one career path to something else tbd. One problem I still have, even as an old, is being able to “see myself” in different kinds of places. I’m sure you’re much more impressive than you think you are (and I completely sympathize with the imposter syndrome), but even if you weren’t, being the unconventional one who got to where they are through the side door isn’t a bad thing to include in any careers conference.

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