Impostor Syndrome

This week, I quit a job I love.

I have had such an enormous run of luck in my life. I was blessed with book smarts that made school a delight. (I have not one single street smart, but have survived into my late twenties nonetheless).

I went to a great university, where I got a middling degree but the best group of friends I could wish for. I met the love of my life (though it took me a few years to work that bit out).

I had done literally nothing to make myself employable, and had made no effort to work out what I’d want to do if I were to pursue a graduate career. Fortunately, I am incessantly perky – a key quality that meant I could wangle a job as a barista in a Starbucks store in a friendly market town.

It was meant to be temporary.

Turns out, I’d unwittingly tripped and landed on the career ladder, after all. Although I couldn’t have predicted it at the time, that barista role was the first step of a seven year adventure that took me to my ideal job.

Internal comms: be nosy, chatty AND bossy – for a living! 

I have the most interesting job, in the loveliest team, in a company which cares a lot about the lives of the people it touches. I laugh every day. I learn every day. I am never, ever bored.

But one day I woke up and realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do. That even though I’d lucked out when I landed at Starbucks, I didn’t want to spend my life dedicated to something I’d fallen in to. That retail isn’t exciting for me. (And, believe me, it is exciting for lots of people! I work with them! It makes them tick! They are wonderful, mysterious enigmas).

And right when that buzzing in my head had got almost too loud to bear, there in front of me was a job I just knew was right. Putting everything I’ve learned at Starbucks into practice in a totally different sector. Working with people who are passionate about improving life for girls and young women the world over. Taking my armchair activism and making it the thing I spend the bulk of my week dedicated to.

I walked out of each of my two interviews knowing, this is where I want to be. So when they called to offer me the job, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I knew it was right.

And so, to this week. This week, in which I quit a job that I love.

I know that I’m doing the right thing. I’m really excited. Really.

But, you guys. I am Freaking. Out.

What if my run of luck is over? What if I don’t actually know how to do internal comms after all? What if I’m completely incompetent when I’m not in the work environment I grew up in? What if the stuff that makes me good at being a Starbucks partner makes me terrible at being an employee somewhere else? What if everyone hates me? What if I hate them? What if I don’t pass the probationary period? What if I never have another good day at work ever ever ever ever ever again?

A very tiny, grain-of-rice part of me knows that these thoughts are probably irrational. And I’ve had enough counselling and CBT to be able to identify an anxiety spiral when it’s starting and try to stop it spinning too hard.

But I’m scared. I feel sick. I’m shivering, even though I’m warm.

So please, lovely friends and mysterious internet strangers. Give me your best advice. How do you start a new job with aplomb? How do you stop yourself being so freaked out you’re paralysed? What’s the best first impression a new colleague has ever made on you? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS AND TRICKS.

(Dear future employer: if you are reading this, please know that despite current appearances I AM TOTALLY COMPETENT AND TOGETHER. Please don’t retract your offer of employment, kthxbye).



  1. steffidaydreamer · November 3, 2015

    Just be yourself, impossible to go wrong. xx


  2. EEx · November 8, 2015

    Be your wonderful self.

    And don’t – like a new colleague once did to me on the first day I met them – tell me (in an only a half joking way) “I’m asking lots of questions. But that’s because it’s all about ME! Hahaha!!”

    Although – that experience in itself is reassuring. TERRIBLE first impression. I sat thinking “Who is this idiot?” Within a week I’d discovered much more about that new colleague that completely redeemed them from that one off-the-cuff comment. They’re smart. Passionate. Hard working. Interesting. And I knew they were going to be great at their job. Suddenly that quick impression wasn’t so firm in my mind, or even relevant.

    So fear not. Yes first impressions are made and good ones are helpful, but they’re not everything.

    And remember they hired YOU. So that’s who you should be.


    P.S. And breathing helps. Remember to breathe!


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