This Week We're Trying Something A Little Different: Imposter Syndrome Can Be Sneaky and Insidious
This week, host of Sh*t I Wish I Knew In My Twenties, Debra Alfarone, is sharing some of her personal sh*t about how imposter syndrome can be sneaky and insidious. It comes for us all. Buckle up for a coaching session and learn how you can kick it to the curb.
Sh*t I Wish I Knew In My Twenties (SIWIKIMT) is a podcast dedicated to helping 20-somethings thrive in their twenties, not just survive.
Host Debra Alfarone knows how tough being in your twenties can be. As a high-school dropout turned-network-TV-correspondent, she learned most of life’s lessons the hard way. She overcame the odds and now covers the White House for CBS News nationally. She’s also a confidence coach for young women in the TV news industry.
Hey, everyone, you're going to notice something a little bit different about this podcast today. I don't have a guest with me. I do have two dogs sitting next to me, which you're not surprised about if you know anything about me. But I do not have a human guest today, and there's a reason for that. I wanted to talk directly to you now. Mind you, I love my guests. I have the most incredible journalists and authors and business owners and thought leaders, and they have poured so many things into you guys. But I have a story, too, and I want to share it with you.
You may or may not know that in addition to being a CBS News correspondent, freelancing at all the different places in CBS, that I have my own business and I help young journalists and basically anybody, really, but mostly journalists, to find their power and stand up for themselves and tell amazing stories and work on their voice and their writing and everything, their confidence, their live shots, you name it. And I wanted to kind of pour a little bit into you right now, this moment, no matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter if you're a journalist, if you own a business, if you're a manager, you're not on air, it don't matter. Because guess what? We're kind of all on air at every moment in our lives. And I'm not talking about big brother watching. I'm talking about you're transmitting, right? You're transmitting who you are to the people around you. You're transmitting a story about yourself, whether you're sitting down across from someone on a coffee date or you're walking through your office, not really when thinking about how you're coming across. So who do you want to be and what's the story that you want to transmit? So I just want to ask you that, sit in that for a moment. What's the story, what's the person, what's the label that you want to transmit? And are you transmitting it, by the way you show up, the questions you ask, what you're wearing, the rooms that you walk into.
I really want you to get present to that. So I will give you a little story because that's what I do. I was a local news reporter for a long time, and I really enjoyed it. And I worked in New York and I worked in DC and some pretty good markets, right? Yeah. But I really thought that network news was for other people. And by other people, I mean people who came from families where there were really smart and accomplished and highly educated parents who taught things to their children. And made sure that those children went to great schools and had. I don't know where I got this idea from, but whatever.
All I know was it wasn't me. It was not my background. And as you may or may not know, I am a former high school dropout. Yeah, I have my GED. But you can imagine that dropping out of high school is a label that you'll wear for quite a while. And my life now is a dream. It really is. I never would have even thought that my life could look this way, that I could be interviewing people standing at the White House.
I mean, come on, covering Congress. But really being a coach to so many young people who then tell more stories and have their power. They get their power, right? So they can tell even better stories and more stories, and then they can move up markets, and their stories are seen by more people. I mean, I'm literally changing the world with my business and with the stories I get to do for CBS, and that's no small feat. And I am clear on that. Right. But I never thought that was available to someone like me. And so it really took me getting my impostor syndrome under control.
Have you heard of Impostor syndrome? Yeah, I bet you have. If you haven't said it, I bet you you felt it. And if you haven't felt it, then what the heck are you doing here on my podcast? Because we get vulnerable on this podcast and we share things like this. But anyway, so, hey, just listen in anyway. Yeah. Impostor syndrome, it's really when you think that you don't deserve all the things that you have, or maybe you're downplaying the things that, you know, that's like me walking into CBS and saying, well, but I'm just a freelance correspondent. I'm just freelance here. I'm just freelance there.
Do you think the person at home, when they watch the story that I have toiled away at about, let's say, St. Emma's Military Academy, the only African American military academy that's no longer in existence, but that was in Virginia. And so many people learned so many incredible skills and made so many lifelong friends at this place. That changed the world. Right? Because everything changes the world a little bit. So, really, this was a life changing place. When I do that story, do you think the person at home goes, ooh, good story, but I don't know. I bet you anything that reporter is freelance.
So it's up to me to not put that label on myself. And so what labels are you putting on yourself? Not good enough. Not smart enough, not from the right family. Maybe you want to talk about your weight or your looks. That's always an easy one, right? We always find something about ourselves and what we look like. We're not enough. Not enough this, not enough that it's just a different flavor. Not enough education and someone else's not enough, right? The correct weight to be, or whatever it might be.
So, by the way, I am not editing this podcast. This is all stream of consciousness. And you could probably tell because it's not perfect and it doesn't need to be, because I am enough. I am enough that I came here to sit in my home office and turn on Zoom and just talk it to this microphone, this fancy, expensive microphone that I saved up for so that you could hear what I have to say. Because I know it'll change someone's life. And I know that all of my incredible guests have life changing advice to give. And I know that my experience is really important because I got young people calling me all the time, clients and non clients. And a lot of times someone who's not a client will reach out to me.
I'm like, listen, I can't talk to you because I'm so busy with the people who pay me to get my advice. So it's really flattering. But so many people are asking me for my advice, and I really just want to say to you, as you consider impostor syndrome, that you are enough. And I don't know you, right? Like, I don't know who's listening to this, but I know you're enough. You know why? Because you woke up this morning, because you're alive, because you have breath, because you're here, because you found your way to this podcast. So whatever I'm saying, it is directed towards you. The universe makes no mistakes. You are a miracle.
Let me say that again. You're a miracle. The fact that you're here and you're listening to this podcast means that you need to hear these words. And I am here to help you and give you these words. There has never been another you, ever. You're unique. There's only you that has your DNA. Well, maybe you have like a twin, I don't know.
But anyway, I'm not going to get into that. There's only been one you, and there will never be another you. And the universe conspired to put you in this place, with that job title, at this company, with these dreams, for a reason. Now, who are you to get in your own way? Who are you to be small with that. You are more powerful than you know. And every day that you wake up, you have a choice to put on the old label that you're not even thinking about. Maybe you just kind of put it on because, hey, this is the label I've always worn, or you can embody a new label. So every day that I get up and I think, oh, my label is today is network tv correspondent.
And by the way, that'll screw with your head in a know, when you're new to it, you're like, whoa, what is this? Am I worthy? Well, nobody made a mistake over at CBS when they hired me freelance and put me on the schedule for a certain day that I did a certain story that ended up on your tv and you got to watch it, and you see me informing you, and maybe it's the way I said a word, or maybe it's the pronunciation, the correct pronunciation of a word in your language, or maybe it's that you know my backstory and you know that I shouldn't be here, but I persevered and survived to be here, and maybe that makes you feel like you could be there or be wherever it is you want to be. These things are not small. And so I have a wonderful population of clients from all sorts of backgrounds, and I'll say to them, when you are on tv, maybe you're a young black woman and you're wearing your natural hair, and then a little girl is watching in your market, wherever your market might be. It could be Paducah, Kentucky. It could be Wichita, Kansas. It could be New York City. It could be Washington, DC. It doesn't matter if there's one little girl who sees herself represented.
That's what it was all about. So who are we to get in our way and play small when we have big, important business to get to? I want to ask you to stop playing small. And if there is something that's in your head, that's standing in the way of you and your greatness, you owe it to yourself to kind of really look at that impostor syndrome. Is this kind of thing where you get this idea, like, oh, I'm not good enough, but can we actually take a step back, get some perspective and look at that kind of, like, I can have perspective on you and you can have perspective on me. Like, it's really hard to have perspective on yourself, but can you take that step back and go, well, wait, is this true? Is this true? Is it true that because my, these are my perceived issues, right? Because I, at one point. Did not finish high school, that I cannot be a correspondent or I can't be a good one, or somebody must have made a mistake somewhere. I went back to high school. I got my GED.
I put myself through college. Oh, yeah. And I've been doing the damn thing out here. I have been reporting in markets big and small for years. And anything I don't know, guess what? I can look it up. If I don't know something, I can ask someone. So when you think you're not good enough for a, b, or c, is that true? Is that true? And what would I tell you? Tell that to yourself. Because we have to be kind to ourselves.
It's becoming cognizant to the low level of meh is what I call it. There's this buz, kind of like when you put on your white noise machine to go to sleep. It's kind of like that low level of just uninspiring kind of really crappy thoughts that keep us small. And what we do is we need to become cognizant to that. What are we really saying about ourselves? Is that true? Because guess what? A lot of it isn't. So, this is my gift to you today to let you know that if the world conspired to have you awake this morning, to listen to this podcast, to do whatever it is that you are setting out to do, whether you are trying to be on air or you are out there starting a podcast, hey, let me help you. Or you are writing a book, not easy. Trust me.
Whatever it is you're doing, the world needs what you've got. The world needs what you've got. So don't you get in your own way, because the world's going to get in your way, whether it means to or not. The world is the world. But, man, if you are in your own way, does that make any sense? It really doesn't. So I want to inspire you to think differently if you are experiencing any kind of imposter y feelings. I've got lots and lots of great podcasts. In fact, a couple podcasts ago when I talked to Jenny Blake.
Ooh, is she good. And by the way, Jenny Blake worked at Google. Yeah, she's pretty smart. She's a coach, and she wrote free time as her most recent book. She just really put feeling impostery into perspective for me. We do not have to be the be all and end all expert on things. I do not have to be the be all and end all expert on foreign policy or the White House or how congress works. I just gotta figure out what I need to figure out that day and do my best.
Give it my all, and know that I'm enough. And every one of you who's listening right now, you are enough. Okay. That's the podcast for today. Yeah. Wanted to try something a little different. If you like this, please share it. Leave me a review.
You know this stuff ain't easy. I don't do this for my health. I need you to help me out. Leave me a review. Share this with somebody. Oh, my gosh. Share it on social media. I really am so happy when you guys reach out to me and let me know that something someone said really meant something to you.
So if you've got a compliment here, this is my other lesson. If you got a compliment, don't hold on to it. Don't be stingy with it. Whether it's to me because you like this podcast or it's to anyone about anything, somebody's got a really nice dress on or you love their shoes, tell them it's the nicest thing you can do, give a compliment. All right, that's what I got for you today. Remember, you're enough. You're more powerful than you know. And that, my friend, is some beep that I really, really wish I knew in my 20s, man, I didn't find that out till much later on.
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