Almost everyone has had impostor syndrome at some point in their lives — even presidential candidates.
While answering questions from followers on Instagram stories Friday, New York Sen. and presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand spoke candidly about impostor syndrome and conquering creeping doubts and anxieties about one’s own self-worth.
“For those you who don’t know what that is, it’s when a person — and often women — feel that we’re somehow where we are because we didn’t earn our way there,” Gillibrand explained.
Gillibrand was replying to a question from a 27-year-old woman named Sarah who works in government and asked for suggestions on fighting impostor syndrome at her job. It is not an unusual question by any means — impostor syndrome at work is a frustration widely understood by many women. While Sarah didn’t offer further context about her own office, many workplaces often facilitate attitudes such as feeling like a fraud or devaluing your own work, either explicitly or otherwise.
She went on to draw from her experience in law and public service, explaining how impostor syndrome once stifled her own goals and aspirations as a woman looking to break glass ceilings and make a mark in the world.
“It took me, like, a full 10 years of volunteering on other people’s campaigns before I had the courage to actually run for office,” she said.
Years later, Gillibrand has now joined a crowded (and possibly growing) field of Democratic presidential candidates vying to run in 2020. As someone aiming to break one of the highest glass ceilings in this country and become the United States’ first female president, Gillibrand is no stranger to intense public scrutiny of everything from her qualifications to her likability.
That constant questioning could drive anyone towards impostor syndrome, and it sends a discouraging, disillusioning message to the women watching Gillibrand’s candidacy play out. But Gillibrand says it’s important to always remember — and value — the skills, experiences, and passions that you bring to the table.
“No. 1: you are smart enough, tough enough, capable enough,” Gillibrand advised. “No. 2: you’re qualified because you do care and you do want to make that difference.
“And three: your voice really matters,” she added, “Do not ever feel that you shouldn’t use it.”