I was recently interviewed by Slovak radio and the reporter out of blue asked if I have any work-related ambitions in the country where I currently live. Sure I have, but I am at the same time fighting my internal wars between ambitiousness and imposter syndrome.
Work and satisfaction with the job have been always very important to me. Even if careerism is usually not connected with work in the social area, I feel I was career-orientated, having good results and successes in the work. I studied a lot; I was improving my skills all the time; I have specific talents and pre-disposition for being very good in certain tasks. But in the current job market, I also miss two crucial skills: a very good command of Finnish & capability to talk about myself in terms of how great/smart/capable I am.
Partially, the incapability to sell yourself lies in the cultural background. Being self-critical, maybe even underestimating ourselves are the demons of the little nations’ history. I would e.g. never agree to speak about a topic I know very little about. But there are so many people outside who do it with a poker face. Positioning themselves in the role of the expert but being unable to answer basic questions about the topic. With the proper gift of speech and confident appearance, they can do it with ease, probably not even realising how little they know. These people are the lucky ones. They understood, that even very little knowledge is more than no knowledge. So are they experts in comparison with those who don’t know anything about the topic? Well, yes, it may be seen like that…
I have always struggled with this. I know something little about many many things and I know quite a lot also about many other things. But my ambition was never to compare myself with people with no knowledge about a certain topic because I don’t see a point here. If to compare with someone, then with someone who knows almost everything about the topic. Someone who is perceived by the community as the expert. But this is exactly the problem! The problem that can lead to imposter syndrome. When you have all the knowledge, skills and capacities, but you are still experiencing self-doubts and you are lacking confidence, you should change your perspective. Do not compare with others, but trust yourself instead. Imposter syndrome might appear especially if you are a perfectionist, a high-achieving person and if you were unemployed for a very long time. Well, I am all of these.
And this is where my naturally ambitious personality fights against the imposter syndrome. I was calling it: “I am just being realistic about myself.” And actually, I am not. I am too self-critical and far too modest. For me being ambitious is not about having a certain hierarchical position, which I bet many people associate ambitiousness with. It is also not about the huge salary. It’s more about the feeling that I am in the right place at the moment. That I am a great choice for that job and that it somehow all makes perfect sense together. Ambitiousness is for me more about having the drive, being challenged by the tasks, improving yourself and sure also being successful and happy with what you do.
I feel I still need some time to melt down my insecurities, but I also believe, there is nothing wrong with being ambitious. Even when you are a foreigner and you might not have the easiest start in a new country. You can still dream big. Don’t give up your ambitions and don’t think you are incompetent just because you don’t speak the language properly. It will take time, but others will recognise what you are capable of. You can help them to see it when you will behave with confidence.