While travelling around the country meeting amazing women like Claire, I’ve been struck by how common it is to find them grappling with feelings of not belonging, and how those feelings impact the way we, as women, show up.
When you feel like you don’t belong, it’s natural to want to hide or change yourself - to fit in. A sense of belonging nurtures confidence, and a lack of that feeling fosters self-doubt.
Everyone has different ways of coping with that pressure. My way was to project a far more assertive version of myself than I actually felt – “fake it till you make it”.
For others, finding their voice can be much harder. The combined pressures of showing up, using your voice, keeping the right tone, in a group you don’t feel a part of - and doing it by yourself - can be intense.
I’ve seen women paralysed with fear, unable to handle the challenge that comes with having their ideas scrutinised.
Far too often, we consider feelings of fraud, or a fear of failure, as personal weaknesses – but they are not. We need to reframe our thinking, and be kind and supportive to one another while we’re doing it – like the generation coming through, who can teach us plenty about the value of inclusivity.
Imagine if we celebrated effort, in the same way we now celebrate achievement? Would the people we consider to be at the top of their chosen fields still be the most admired?