THE BLOG

The Election - Is Imposter Syndrome To Blame?

12/06/2017 13:25
Hannah Mckay / Reuters

Arrogant and Vain - those were the damning words used by the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron to describe Theresa May and her decision to call a snap general election. As the polls closed and that shocking and ultimately spot on exit poll came out declaring the result would be a hung parliament - I felt the same. "Hubris" - I declared to my husband - "that is what has done for the Prime Minster". Supporters and detractors alike were no doubt having the same thought.

But as the hours ticked by and the dawn of yet another new reality begins to sink in I've been starting to wonder if perhaps excessive pride and self-confidence were not in fact behind this ultimately foolish decision. Sure, she will have been buoyed by the polls putting her streets ahead of Corbyn in any popularity contest. But perhaps deep down there was something else going on.

Here was a Prime Minister un-elected by the people and not even ultimately chosen by her own party. Perhaps the decision was about something every successful woman I've ever met or interviewed suffers from- imposter syndrome. Maybe she just didn't feel good enough to be Prime Minister - didn't feel like she'd earned it or that people believed in her, and by going to the country she could finally put those self-doubts to rest.

This fear of being exposed, of feeling that you don't deserve your success, aren't as good as others and could be "found at" any time is shockingly common amongst high achieving women.

One of the most successful and high-profile women on the planet, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has spoken of the numerous days she has woken up feeling like a fraud. Many famous actresses have outed themselves as having dealt with this syndrome, including Emma Watson, Kate Winslet and the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

Every article I've ever read about the Prime Minister presents her as strong and self-assured. Indeed, that's certainly how she seemed when I met her. But isn't that what we think about all women in high position.

For the first few years of my presenting career I definitely struggled with imposter syndrome. There were countless days I would sit in this space ship size studio in the big black presenter chair feeling nauseous with anxiety. Sure, I had spent a decade working my way up the greasy pole of journalism - but who was I to be putting the big questions of the day to the big beasts of politics and business? Did I really know enough to be asking the right probing incisive questions? But despite the worries and doubts I just kept going. But then I've never run the country.

Is this ultimately what happened here? Were Theresa May's insecurities to blame?
Perhaps I am being too charitable - giving the Prime Minister the benefit of oh, oh so many doubts.

Whatever the reason for her fateful decision - it will be one Theresa May has a lifetime to mull over - and whether or not she hangs onto her job- no doubt regret.

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