When I left my job to work for myself full-time (and start Bauman Creative), I was SUPER empowered. I was like a freaking battle-tested warrior woman. I had several contracts lined up. I had an awesome nanny on deck to watch my kid. I set up my own home office. And, when people asked me what I did for a living, I told them with the boldness of a level 20 paladin that I was a small business owner.
… But then I had a couple of prospective contracts that didn’t pan out.
… And then I messed up big time and lost a lucrative client.
Suddenly, I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t running a business. Maybe I was “just freelancing.” Maybe I was just a lame-o peasant running around in second-hand full plate.
Instead of having the confidence of a warrior and the assurance of a small businesswoman, I started to shrink and be consumed by doubt. This dark seed of timidity blossomed into a full-fledged case of impostor syndrome so powerful that, eventually, I started to question whether or not I was capable of providing for my family AT ALL – especially doing it from home, on my own terms and time.
Self-doubt is a monster. I think working moms struggle with it a whole lot because we’re constantly juggling all our different hats. It’s not just home/life balance. It’s an unending tug-of-war between you and a nasty-ass hydra beast with no fewer than 18 unrelenting, hissing heads. They’re snapping at your heels, beating you down physically while whispering words of discontent, breaking you down to make you feel like you’ll never be able to make it to swimming lessons, prep for tomorrow’s meeting, pick up dinner, and still find time to reconnect with the hubby.
But, here’s the thing, that hydra beast is a lying sack of crap and you’ve got more than enough stuff to do your thing professionally, be a present and loving mom, and maybe even get a little something-something from the husband. You just need to think like a high fantasy warrior woman!
- Get A Kick-Ass Adventuring Party
You know when Buffy is off slaying vampires with all her supernatural buddies? And when Frodo is questing to Mount Doom, but he can’t do it alone? Or, like, how Harry Potter needs Hermione and Ron to fight off what’s-his-name? That’s because even the most awesome adventurers need an adventuring party to do it all.
Seek support. Find it online in communities like Liberating Working Moms. Get it from other moms in your office. Search out other moms who are working from home. Forge bonds that will make you stronger, support you when you’re down, and lift you higher even as you soar.
- Be Your Own Bard
Okay, so if you were a brave adventuring ladytype in a dramatic fantasy landscape, there would be awesome bards to record your amazing feats of strength and cunning. They’d write you songs and tell tales of your uncompromising awesomeness to recite throughout time.
Our modern society doesn’t have bard to tell your tales, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be keeping a record of your accomplishments – big and small. Get a diary. Use a Tumblr. Get your Twitter on. I don’t care HOW you do it, but find a platform to proclaim what you’re doing right. It doesn’t have to be daily, but it has to happen regularly. Hashtag it or read through it often to give yourself frequent reminders that you are good enough, smart enough, and capable enough to defeat the hydra.
- Just Keep Questing
If you want to be the Xena Warrior Princess of your workplace, you need to have an adventurous spirit. When new challenges present themselves, tackle them. When setbacks attack, commit to finding new weapons and ways to overcome them.
Arm yourself. Ready yourself. And, even when it seems like the hydra of self-doubt may knock you down, bust out your sword and prepare for battle.