I went out for a run this afternoon. I didn’t really have time for it, I’ve loads to do but I needed it. Not only for my lard ass, that I’m dragging around a trail race in a couple of weeks, but my head.
Don’t for a second think I’m one of those people who loves nothing more than donning their favourite runners and pounding the pavements to clear their head…I hate running…well dislike it a lot…put it this way we’ve never really been friends. I run for two reasons; it’s the only way home to finish a triathlon and it makes me concentrate. I pick on issue to think about and today’s big issue was failure.
Everyday I wake up and think to myself ‘if you can just blag your way through one more day then maybe you’ll get there’. This feeling of impostor syndrome, like I’m out of my depth, I’m a fraud. I just don’t fit in and the fear that that sticks out. Until I realised today I’m not actually an impostor, we are more alike than you think.
My working life is spent these days meeting inspiring, successful, phenomenal people. I often joke that my day is just a whole load of me chatting to people that make me feel like I am doing nothing with my life.
I love my job, I won’t lie I really never ever intended on ending up here, I thought I’d be a racing correspondent or an agri writer, something more within my field but nope. I mean, what better way to put the fear of god in you than leap feet first into something you know nothing about and just hope the hole is small enough you don’t get swallowed up.
My background is horse racing, my up bringing was as a farmers daughter and the only memory I have about technology at home was my father feared it, he wouldn’t even eat peas done in the microwave! I’d imagine he’d be having a conniption in his grave if he knew I was currently packing for the Web Summit!
I’m not sure why this popped in my head today but it did. It was an article I’d done on failed start ups, a couple of years ago when I’d just started to write print. I’d felt so comfortable writing it because I knew where it had come from, I know a little about failure and I could resonate with the raw pain that tends to linger.
This then led me to think about all the people I’ve met over the last few years in this new fraudulent life I was leading. There were loads of stories of failure and a good bit of fear in there too. One after another they were all popping up. The struggle of start up life…the ups and the downs. Some I know are at the inception, they are brimming with excitement and people are blowing smoke up their ass because right now they are hot but we all know if I revisit them in 5 years time only a handful will still be standing. Unfortunately there will be failures.
For the past year I’ve felt more than ever that I’m a failure. A fall from my horse a year ago upset some old wounds where I’d broken my back before and it started a down hill spiral of constant injury and missed race after missed race. (For those that don’t know I dabble in long distance triathlons for the craic.) All culminating in that one moment in August this year, with an ambulance following my decent from Cairngorm Mountain, where I had to pull the plug in a race and admit defeat. It was gross. Saying the words ‘ok, I’m done’ was the hardest sentence I’ve ever had to get out of my mouth and I’ve had to deliver some horrid ones in my time. I had to quit.
Sound familiar? Yes. And this is why I no longer feel like an impostor. I’m not a fraud. I am everything that ye are and maybe in parts more. I have lived, and it may not have been in a business or tech environment…I could nearly argue that it’s been harsher.
I may not know what a glass ceiling feels like (it was the first term I learned when I rocked up to Dublin) because I never had to, I was just one of the lads. A tough day in work for me was not a failed product launch or a dent in my career due to a bad peer review, it was crossing the yard and the lads telling me they’d seen my lots (horses) for the day and if I didn’t want to get killed the best thing I could do is turn around and get back in my car and go home…of course I never did!
I look at my peers and I can’t compare myself to them. I thought it was because they were better than me (they actually are but this is a positive piece so lets not burst my bubble!!) but they’ve just been on a different journey. I mean, I bet they haven’t hand sheared sheep on a ranch, miles from nowhere, in Argentina just to earn their keep for the night or been shipped to A&E in the back of an ambulance because they’ve refused to accept that they are allergic to wetsuits because you can’t really train for an Ironman without one.
We are a lot alike. We all have a story, sometimes we don’t want others to see the bad parts but we all learn from them. I envy your education and wonderful careers but after today’s little lung buster (I’m so unfit!!) I regret nothing, I wouldn’t swap being me for anything…well maybe if I could be Lucy Charles…no, I mean it, I’ll stick with me.
I know I’m not the only one who will be feeling that I’m just hanging in there this week, your not alone. I’m looking for stories!
See you at the Web Summit!