Learning to Advocate for Yourself

Imposter syndrome is defined as a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Outside of procrastination, I don't think there is anything more crippling or deterring than self-doubt. I often find myself doubting my abilities as a direct result of imposter syndrome.

Do I belong here? Do I deserve that raise? Did I really qualify for that award? All questions rooted in fear and the earlier defined imposter syndrome. Now there are those that are truly swindling and doing absolutely nothing as they “move in silence”. However, there are those of us that truly don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. We have the bags under our eyes, the encouragement of our support system and a full calendar to prove our efforts, yet there are still times where we will question ourselves on whether we should have a seat at the table.

Whenever I find myself in the precarious, yet familiar situation, where what I require and what I offer don’t quite match up, I put on a special“hat” (mindset) to advocate for myself.

Self-Advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, taking advantage of resources to further your own interest, and being well informed of your rights & entitlements in whatever roles you may be leading in your life.

Taking a note from Mrs. Beyonce' G. Knowles Carter, self-advocacy is taking a vow that from now on, you are going to be your own best friend. Isn't it ironic that we require the best for our loved ones but often times just take what is offered for ourselves?

To advocate for yourself initially requires a great deal of self-assessment.

What do you really want? Are you being influenced by the decisions of others? Are you doing the work that actually brings value?

Before you go to bat for yourself, I find it crucial to get clear about YOU. Take the time to be honest and get real on all contributing factors of the conflict, especially your own.

Once you are clear on your wants and your values, its time to connect the two with a plan of action. Do you want a promotion, but you lack the resources to qualify for the position? Do you want to reach a certain health goal but fail year after year? Or do you just want to reach a financial goal?

Self-advocacy isn't just the thought that you can do all of the above, it is having the hard conversation with your boss and figuring out the next steps for that promotion, finding a personal trainer and diet that works for you and sitting down with an excel sheet or fiduciary to map out your financial goals.

The only thing more uncomfortable than speaking up or acting on what is in your best interest is settling for all the things that aren't. If you are doing the work required and adding value, you deserve to at least try for what you desire.

The United State’s Department of Homeland Security suggests that if you see “something you should say something” and I think we all should take a similar approach when it comes to protecting who we are. If you recognize something exceptional about who you are that isn't getting the awareness or recognition you think it should, you should take the necessary steps to maintain and protect the standard you have set or desire.

Denying yourself the pleasure of your personal best benefits no one, actually, it harms you the most. Hoping you choose to let your light shine!

image1 (4).jpeg

Written By Xenobiah Culbreath

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina