Fighting feelings of inadequacy

Fighting feelings of inadequacy

One sunny afternoon in London last year whilst working at a digital analytics consultancy, I sat around a table having lunch with my colleagues. Our company had just released the gender pay gap statistics in comparison to the rest of the industry and this led to a discussion.

We knew women across the globe were being paid less compared to their male counterparts for the same role, but we wanted to know why. We talked about how women were generally less likely to; negotiate higher salaries when applying for jobs, put themselves forward for promotions, and apply for senior roles. But I asked why and if I had ever done any of these.

That’s when I remembered the Imposter Syndrome: the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.

Now this was something I could relate to. The feeling that I was not “clever enough” or “as good as my colleagues” was something that I felt from time to time. It was only when I came across a TedTalk about it one day that I realised I matched most of the “symptoms”:

  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Distrust in one’s own intuition and capabilities
  • Shrugging off accolades

Whilst I knew this wasn’t specific to women – I remember speaking to my friends at work about this and was disheartened to learn that the majority of my female friends were the ones who doubted themselves and their abilities the most. These women, I felt, were truly phenomenal at what they did. They were experts in their roles and extremely clever, yet their confidence whilst presenting complicated data analysis never once indicated that they too were full of self-doubt. I was surprised to learn that they felt the same about me too.

This led to me reading articles and watching videos on how to overcome this. Whilst to some degree this did help put my mind at ease, I couldn’t help but feel there was something lacking. That’s when I began contemplating on how Maharaj is the giver of all of our abilities and how easy it is to forget this, especially in a professional environment. I then remembered the pangti:

Click here to read the full shabad

This pangti has truly helped me a lot over my life and is something I continue to read when feeling anxious. Reading this again and again, I remembered a few examples where women in Sikh history shaped future generations with full faith in their Guru, such as:

  • Bebe Nanaki ji’s unwavering faith in her brother’s teachings and way of life
  • Mata Bhaag Kaur ji’s unmatched fearlessness on the battlefield
  • Mata Sahib Kaur ji’s love and devotion to Guru Gobind Singh ji and her Khalsa children

These were just a few examples that came to mind when looking back at our rich history. Reciting this pangti and remembering such role models is something I continue to do whenever those feelings of self-doubt begin to creep up.

Ultimately, we have nothing to fear. We simply need to remember Maharaj is the giver of all abilities, professional or otherwise. One glance back at our history illustrates this beautifully.

Author – Mandeep Kaur