Imposter Syndrome, Anxiety & Other People’s Angst

Hi. My name is Nephthys and I’m an imposter.

I’ve been an imposter for … oooh… the past sixteen or so years?

But I’m sick of it, and I want to stop.

Could you imagine? If everyone who felt like an imposter at any point in their life had to attend meetings, we’d never get any work done as a society!

I’m going to tell you the story of my imposter syndrome, where it came from, and why I’m really freaking over it.

poser sprayed in white on red brick wall

I have had three careers in my life. Two were trades that I had to work really hard to learn. The latest, digital marketer with a specialisation in social media marketing, was also hard to attain, but I earned that (mostly made up) title with blood, sweat and tears… a lot of tears. And a lot of self-doubt, negative thinking and over-compensation.

I started my working life as a hairdresser, and I was good. It took me a few years to get good, and some really terrible haircuts in the process, but I was good. I was “win apprentice competitions” good. I was “attend specialist training and beat people who have been in the game for twenty years” good. But, as luck would have it, I developed a chemical sensitivity and couldn’t work in hair salons anymore, having to ditch the career just before I was able to pass my final exam to qualify.

I was then a mother (which should qualify as its own damned career of sixteen years and counting) for a while, so was out of the work force.

By chance, I became friends with a well-regarded and highly trained professional body piecer, and I started doing reception and autoclave sterilisation technician work. This was my chance to segue not only back into the workforce, but into a new career. So I did. I trained and learned and worked my damned arse off, because I assure you body piercing is not easy work. I did my senior fist aid certificate, kept it up to date out my own pocket. I worked with the local government and health departments to educate their workers and inspectors on what safe skin penetration actually looked like in the field. I worked with child safety staff to ensure practices were put in place to safeguard young people and their bodies. I worked and worked and worked to be a shining example of my profession to people who looked at us with disdain and disgust. And I was good. I was really good. I was “I’ve flown all the way from England to Australia to be pierced by you” kind of good. I was “my mate on another warship told me about you so I waited until we were in port to get pierced by you” kind of good. I was “very high profile client base” kind of good. But a latex allergy, on top of my chemical intolerance, limited my time in the industry, as well as the long hours and being a single parent putting strain on my relationship with my child.

So, I started looking for my next move. Something that would allow me to actually possess a “magical piece of paper” that I hadn’t yet attained. See, there’s no certificate of trade for body piercing, and I hadn’t been able to qualify for my hair dressing certificate. So, as far as anyone could see I was unskilled and unqualified as a worker.

That changed when I entered university to attain my Bachelor of Arts in Internet Communications. And I worked hard. I worked really hard, but I was not good. I failed units. I burned the midnight oil to get assignments in on time. I took on more than I should have for someone with mental health issues and physical limitations. I felt, with every assignment, that I didn’t belong here and someone was going to find out I was a fake, and was going to kick me out. I self-sabotaged. I tried to drop-out. But, after three years, I passed and attained my Bachelors degree. Not only that, but I was accepted into the Honours program, and was the one person from my discipline that year to do so. And I worked hard. I researched. I did comparative analysis. I taught myself statistics. I taught myself some french, because I didn’t trust the translation of some of the Foucault texts I was basing my thesis on. Over the course of ten months, I must have written and re-written my thesis project five times. In November of 2014, I handed in my final thesis paper, having just finished final edits the night before.

It was not up to my standards. I knew that, but it passed and I am now able to attach an “Hons.” at the end of my degree.

So what happened to make me work so hard but not succeed?

My inner voice, the nasty one that tells me I’m not good enough and that people will find out and shun me, got the better of me. Previously, I was able to see the work I was producing, set it alongside work from others and see that mine was better. That’s not possible in university, so began to doubt my ability to overcome and produce good work.

Not only that, but one Very Important Person in my life at the time told me something that has haunted me since.

“You really are quite arrogant.”

This was from my best friend at the time. At the time, I thought she was giving me some hard love, and perhaps I needed the wake up call. It has taken me three years, a LOT of tears and heat ache and a stupid amount of introspection to realise she was jealous of my ability to root for myself. She had worked just as hard as I had. She was really good at her profession. But no one had ever rooted for her the same way I rooted for myself.

When you come from a dysfunctional family, have tumultuous relationships and have no one in your life long enough to rely on, there is no other choice but to rely on yourself. You have to rely on yourself to keep you safe, to boost you up when you need it. I was my own cheerleader because no one else would be. She had never had to do that for herself, so she didn’t understand why I so freely said, “Damn I’m good” with such regularity. She didn’t see why I patted myself on the back when I had done incredible work, because she had never needed to. There is a difference between self-congratulatory actions as a necessity and as a reward.

So, if you have ever doubted your own abilities, please hear me now: “You are awesome. You are slaying. You are so worthy of this praise that you deserve to tell yourself this each and every day.”

And to that person who slapped me in the face with my own coping mechanism, and to anyone else who does so, I am sorry that you can’t rely on yourself to be your own cheer squad. I’m sorry that you have never felt the warm glow of congratulations from yourself, to the point that you feel the need to dim the light of others. I hope you find a way to tell yourself that you’re awesome, because you deserve it just as much as I do. Because I’m awesome.

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Climate Change, Marriage Equality and Basic Human Rights. Oh My!

Aaaaah, Australia. The wide brown land for me…

well…

kinda…

I’m a white Australia who has the luck of being born to a family with at least three previous generations who were also born in Australia. I am, however, still female.

That means my uterus is not always mine to govern. My pay is not the same as a male counterpart. The fact that I am highly likely to experience sexual harassment (or worse) at the hands of a colleague at my place of employ doesn’t even begin to tell you how work isn’t always a safe place for someone like me.

Sure, I get to experience a longer life, and I can hope to  spend that time just living life, right? Oh. No?

Australian Bureau of Statistics 4125.0

 

Well, at least I’m not likely to be killed by my partner. No? Wrong again? Gods be damned!

It could always be worse.

I could be gay and unable to marry my same-sex partner, instead of bisexual and in a heterosexual-presenting relationship.

Or a migrant, instead of born here.

Or someone seeking asylum, instead of safe and relatively free from oppressive regimes.

Or an indigenous Australian.

Or a farmer.

Or someone who lived by the sea.

But no. Instead, I am an average white female who has everything going for her and nothing to lose but her way of life in this, the lucky country we call Australia.

 

AIMIA 2016 Digital Industry Salaries Report

The Digital Industry Association of Australia recently released the findings of its 2016 investigation into the digital industries and salaries.

Initially, I was interested to read the report as I was on the hunt for a new role and wanted to make sure that my expectations, in regards to remuneration and a couple of other factors, were on track for my industry.

There are a number of interesting figures highlighted by this report. The statistics found by this report for those working in the social media and marketing areas is in line with the findings in last year’s Australian Community Manager’s Survey conducted by Quiip, swarm community management conference, and Dialogue Consulting.

Also of note is how out of step the salaries for those in the executive branch of the industry are, when compared with professionals across the spectrum of roles included.

At $200,000, the median salary of Senior Digital Executives is markedly higher than that of the second most highly paid digital professionals .

At $200,000, the median salary of Senior Digital Executives is markedly higher than that of the
second most highly paid digital professionals (eCommerce: $120,000).

What I would like to see is a report comparing expectations of those looking to enter the digital industries to the realities of working in the field. I’m talking points like salary (obviously a large factor), hours worked in the office, hours worked outside of office hours, unpaid work hours (come on, we all know it happens), and job satisfaction. I think these are all important factors to consider when looking to enter a new job, but are of especial interest to those who are new to the workforce in general.

Facebook = Internet… or does it?

Michael Wolf, of Activate fame, said recently that Facebook wants to be the internet. He was, of course, referring to a deal between the social media giant and Oculus VR. The question is: How is it going to achieve it?

Img credit: Rishi Bandopadhay on Flickr.com

Img credit: Rishi Bandopadhay on Flickr.com

The internet, and by extension the web, has become central to our day-to-day existence. We use it to communicate with our friends, family and colleagues. We use it to access information that might otherwise elude us. It’s the first thing we think to turn to when it comes to the ever-present question, “What will I make for dinner?” In fact, with the Internet of Things invading our appliances, the day is not too far away that we see the Internet becoming the single most integral element in our everyday life outside of air, food and water.

Facebook sees itself at the centre of this brave new world. Its active hunting and acquisition of smaller companies offering something it wants is just one part of the strategy to offer everything online in just one place.

The Facebook wall has taken over what websites like LiveJournal and MySpace once offered, with Facebook Messenger giving us what Skype can. It’s not creating new opportunities, but more an act of integrating existing offerings and sticking a shiny new Facebook blue badge on it. Games can even be played in Messenger as well! Where will it end?

In Australia, you can now have your memorial online with Facebook. Not even your end will mean an end to your social media presence.

All this plugging in to your general life has left some people concerned.

Some critics of Facebook’s Internet.org say that attempts to provide free internet access to emerging markets by the world’s largest social media platform threatens “…freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation.

Long time readers of this blog and my Twitter feed will know that I am a believer in keeping the net neutral (amongst other things). Now, I’m not saying that Facebook is evil. There are plenty of other people who have written on that subject. All I’m saying is that, as with any form of technology, there are things to be considered when you’re delving into the realm of social media.

The fifth of November

Remember. Remember.

“Allow me first to apologise for this interruption.  I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of the everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition.  I enjoy them as much as any bloke.  But in the spirit of commemoration – whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday – I thought we could mark this November the fifth, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

“There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak.  I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way.  Why?  Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.  Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?

Cruelty and injusticeintolerance and oppression.  And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have sensors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.  How did this happen?  Who’s to blame?  Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable.  But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

shattered mirror

“I know why you did it.  I know you were afraid.  Who wouldn’t be?  WarTerrorDisease.  There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.  Fear got the best of you and in your panic, you turned to the now High Chancellor Adam Sutler.  He promised you order.  He promised you peace.  And all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

“Last night, I sought to end that silence. Last night, I destroyed the Old Bailey to remind this country of what it has forgotten.  More than four hundred years ago, a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory.  His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice and freedom are more than words – they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you, then I would suggest that you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked.  But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek…then I ask you to stand beside me, one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament.  And together, we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever, be forgot!”

More than just words from a graphic novel turned into a movie.

(text credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

What I learned by gatecrashing another workplace

Let me start by saying that the title of this piece is a little misguiding.

*cough cough* 136 zombie kills. Just saying.

*cough cough* 136 zombie kills. Just saying.

It wasn’t a real gatecrash in the true sense of the term.
More like an invitation extended on which I acted.
Alright, I was an invited guest.
But it made a really good title.

I recently returned from a trip to Melbourne, during which I covered the swarm conference (it’s my annual national-scale giving back to the community project) through live tweets and blog posts of the two days it ran. It is always an eye-opener and an educational experience, sharing the room with so many amazing minds in the community and social media management arena. If you missed my work, or if you want to learn more about the only annual Australian conference for Online Community and Social Media Managers, you can check them out here.

I also took some time off to just enjoy the sight and sounds of Melbourne. I had the chance to catch up and hang out with my very good friend, Venessa Paech. If you don’t know this amazing lady, then you’re missing out. She is a wealth of knowledge concerning community management and a constant source of awesomeness.

Venessa is Senior Manager for Community & Content Strategy with REA Group, and I was invited to pop into the office to catch up with her and the crew after swarm. What I learn was very valuable indeed.

Lessons I learned at REA Group.

1) Work hard, but make time for play.
While many workplaces pay lip service to facilitating the work/life balance of their employees, few really offer ways in which to truly help. Even fewer employees seem willing to accept such offers. Whether it’s not wanting to appear unable to cope, or if it’s a lack of willingness to let their guard down, employees are not striking a true balance in their life and employment. REA Group has made some great moves to endorsing and encouraging fun in the workplace, with an emphasis on helping their employees strike their own sense of balance. Whether it’s taking time out to sit on the couches in breakout areas and play Guitar Hero, or if it’s grabbing the Oculus Rift gear to thwart zombies, these guys have really taken the “Balance in all things” phrase to heart. They even hold classes in the office for Zumba and subsidise gym memberships, showing that healthy choices are all part of striking the balance employees need and want in their lives.

2) “Hot-desk” isn’t a dirty word.
Sure, there are some roles in which you simply can’t have a different desk every day. sometimes, you really do need your own place and for that place to be always yours. When possible, and properly implemented, hot-desking can prove to facilitate employee productivity. It can stop the silo-ing effect of nesting, and helps teams to find a place that works for them and their particular efforts. It also means that if that person who insists on clicking their pen ad nauseum (or any other really annoying habit that you simply can’t stand) isn’t so offended when you simply up and shift to a new position.

3) Employee health IS an employer’s concern.
We often forget that, unless properly managed, one of the cons to increased work hours is a decline in employee health. With office hours on a general increasing trend, it falls to the individual AND their employer to ensure that health, physical and mental, is protected. Walking meetings, standing desks, opportunities to move around, offering exercise incentives, allowing regular breaks, ensuring good office ergonomics and allowing flexibility in work conditions are all ways in which employers can genuinely assist their employees in finding their own ways to ensure good health.

4) Your workplace is a community.
We spend so much of our time at work, but often forget that the people we work with are people too – people with feelings and families and a set of ethics and values. For that reason, your workplace is a community of people, each bringing valuable societal information to share. The moment you start looking at your colleagues in this way, work becomes less of a place to hack away at tasks, and more a place of collaboration and communal problem-solving that makes everyone feel good about the work they are doing.

5) Helping people is good.
REA Group holds regular Hackathons. These Hack Days are a chance for people to pitch ideas they want to work on, for customers, or as a way of giving back to their community outside of work. Whether it’s setting up a national volunteer database, or helping homeless people find a safe place to sleep, allowing employees to work on tasks that benefit someone outside of the workplace not only provides exposure for your company, but also shows that you recognise your place of privilege without society and are wiling to use that position for the greater good.

REA Group is a huge crew, but these lessons aren’t only for big organisations. They work and have meaning on smaller scales too.

And every work place should have zombie-smiting sessions.

Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper

I seriously love my friends. They’re a varied crew, all interested in a huge range of subjects. There is one common thread, however. They’re almost all into what is right.

I recently received this email from a friend in regards to a conversation underway about an online copyright infringement discussion paper. As it is a subject rather close to my heart, I thought I would share its contents with you. It is from the Australian Digital Alliance.

It continues to be an exciting year for copyright in Australia! Of particular note is the government’s request for feedback on its proposals on online copyright infringement which are due on 1 September 2014.

Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper

The government recently released a discussion paper aimed at reducing online copyright infringement.  The paper had three main proposals:

  • Extend authorisation liability;
  • Provide a new injunctive process to block overseas websites whose dominant purpose is to infringe copyright; and
  • Extend the safe harbours to a wider class of intermediaries (including schools and universities).

We have a quick overview of the proposals and have blogged some preliminary responses to the proposal to extend authorisation liability.  While this measure is directed ISPs, it is not restricted to ISPs, meaning that the changes will impact on other intermediaries such as schools, libraries, online platforms and universities.  In particular we are concerned that:

  • It will increase legal risk
  • It will increase legal uncertainty
  • It will encourage reliance on the safe harbours, including the requirement for an implemented policy for disconnection of repeat infringers
  • It will put Australia at odds with international norms

We have commissioned Dr Rebecca Giblin to write a paper that examining the effects on intermediaries and also do a comparative analysis of the forms of secondary liability with other core jurisdictions.

We will of course be putting in a submission, and would encourage others to do the same.  EFA has put together some consumer facing materials that may be useful and CHOICE is asking for consumer stories about access to content.  I haven’t seen anything from groups such as the Copyright Council, but if you have additional resources please feel free to bring them to our attention!

Trade Agreements
We have signed tow FTAs this year with Korea and Japan, both contain IP chapters. On copyright these continue to focus on enforcement, with limited recognition of other interests. In the reports on KAFTA they also included an opinion that the decision in the iiNet case was inconsistent with our trade agreements, and should be overturned, something that has now been suggested in the response to online copyright infringement.  We disagree with this interpretation of our international commitments, and said so in our submission.

Negotiations on the TPP continue, the next meeting will be in the first week in September in Hanoi.  The intention still seems to be concluding the agreement in  November, but this hinges a lot on whether Japan, the US and Canada can sort out the market access issues.  We continue to liaise at departmental and political level to ensure that the negotiators and decision makers are aware of the potential effects on user groups.

Other matters

We’ve also recently put in a submission to the Competition Policy Review (done a fair amount of media about the lack of movement on the IT Pricing recommendations \and supporting the work of the libraries at WIPO

Within the Attorney-General’s department a small group has been created to look at copyright reform, including online infringement and the ALRC recommendations.  We continue to work on this, and will be looking to some wider advocacy efforts toward the end of the year.

And, in some excellent news, we finally signed the Marrakesh Treaty!

If anyone is in Melbourne on Tuesday/Wednesday do consider coming to AuIGF – I’ll be speaking on panels about regulation on the internet and intermediary liability.

As always. please do keep up with our work at http://digital.org.au/blog or follow @aus_digital on twitter.  And feel free to email info@digital.org.au questions/concerns/suggestions/queries.