That might sound mundane but it was a huge jump from my previous job at a supermarket, packing bags and herding customers as they fought over reduced biscuits. On the side, I had worked as many ad hoc copywriting shifts at magazines as I could possibly fit in and completed a journalism course with a scholarship for financially disadvantaged teens. Finally, I could put my skills and shiny new degree to use.
When I got the call to tell me that I’d been chosen for the copywriting role, I cried. At the time I was illegally subletting a room in a shared house. My bedroom was run-down and all I wanted was to earn enough to live somewhere decent. Landlords can discriminate against people on low incomes and if, like me, you don’t have parents who earn enough to be your guarantor, finding a landlord who will give you a nice home is far from straightforward.
This only worsened after my first day. The team was friendly; nobody revoked my job offer or exposed me as a liar (phew!) but I couldn’t submit work without my stomach burning from nausea. I started googling, desperate for advice. Thanks to several life coaches who had written countless articles about what I was feeling, I soon believed I was suffering with so-called imposter syndrome.
Studies have found that students from working class backgrounds often feel out of place in higher education and are likely to struggle with their mental health.
Most of the advice offered for combating imposter syndrome is the same. It encourages women to look within, reinforcing the idea that we are at once the problem and the solution. Take this article, for example, which argues that you can fight against imposter syndrome by "owning your greatness", "articulating your strengths" and "making time for self-care".
"Sometimes it’s just so overwhelming being around posh people and having nothing to relate to them with," she tells me. "The worst part is they don’t know. It’s not like you can start your first day with 'Hi, I’m working class so don’t talk to me about Marks and Spencer!'"
"You just have to endure awkward conversations where colleagues assume you have these rich experiences like travelling or going to red brick universities," she continues.
Samantha, 29, feels similarly after recently moving from Liverpool to London to work on communications for a charity. "Yesterday I fully broke down crying because I feel so out of place and don’t know how to make friends with my colleagues," she says. "I feel like I have never had worse imposter syndrome."
Samantha tells me that she’s felt pressure to completely conceal her class background. "It's really odd working in a space where everyone's lived experience is so vastly different from your own," she explains. "It makes me aware of what I say or do, like I'm going to slip up and reveal that I’m secretly ‘rough’ or something."
Do you have imposter syndrome or are you exhausted? Do you have imposter syndrome or are you just battling sexism and classism in the workplace?