Michelle Obama shares tips for tackling imposter syndrome at work

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  • The former first lady of the United States wants women to feel valued

    Michelle Obama is undeniably an inspirational woman – feisty, fearless and forward-thinking. But even the former First Lady of the United States has dealt with imposter syndrome – the psychological pattern where you doubt your accomplishments and fear being exposed as a ‘fraud’.

    ‘I’ve been there plenty of times,’ Michelle told Vogue. ‘What’s helped me most is remembering that our worst critics are almost always ourselves. Women and girls are already up against so much: the fact is that you wouldn’t be in that room if you didn’t belong there. And while negative thoughts are bound to crop up as you take on new roles and challenges, you can acknowledge them without letting them stop you from occupying space and doing the work. That’s really the only way we grow — by moving beyond our fears and developing trust that our voices and ideas are valuable.’

    The mum-of-two expanded, ‘For so long, women and girls have been told we don’t belong in the classroom, boardroom, or any room where big decisions are being made. So when we do manage to get into the room, we are still second-guessing ourselves, unsure if we really deserve our seat at the table. We doubt our own judgment, our own abilities, and our own reasons for being where we are. Even when we know better, it can still lead to us playing it small and not standing in our full power.’

    Education is power

    Michelle – whose memoir Becoming became a bestseller in 2019 – believes education is power, and champions women and girls around the world. ‘I want every girl on this planet to have the same opportunities that I’ve had. But right now, more than 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. That’s an injustice that affects all of us…It’s on all of us to make sure every young girl has access to a quality education.’

    She adds, ‘We also need to give our girls the chance to discover their own voices. So often, we tell women that they should be speaking up, fighting for better conditions, and standing up all on their own to the inequity they face. But if we never give our girls the space to practice using their voices, how will they become women who know when to raise them?’

    ‘At the same time, we need to bring our boys and men into this effort, too. So much could change in a generation if we taught our boys to listen to girls, to see them as their equals. Because the truth is women are just as capable and qualified as men to lead. And if we give our girls the chance to become the women they’re meant to be, we really can set off a ripple effect that transforms the world.’

    Michelle, we couldn’t have put it better.

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    It’s after Labor Day, so I’m thinking about all the young people heading back to school and reflecting on my own days as a student in Chicago. I learned a lot in school—how to do my multiplication tables and structure a paragraph, yes, but also how to push myself, be a good friend, and dust myself off after a failure. It’s so easy for us to take our education for granted, especially here in the United States. Right now, more than 98 million adolescent girls around the world are not in school. I believe every girl on the planet deserves the same kind of opportunities that I’ve had—a chance to fulfill her potential and pursue her dreams. We know that when we give girls a chance to learn, they’ll seize it. And when they do, our whole world benefits. Girls who go to school have healthier children, higher salaries, lower poverty rates, and they can even help boost their entire nation’s economy. So today on #WorldCharityDay, I want you to share your favorite #BackToSchool photo and to join the @girlsopportunityalliance to take action for global girls’ education. Visit the link in my bio to learn more—because the future of our world is only as bright as our girls.

    A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

    YouTube Originals Creators for Change on Girls’ Education with Michelle Obama, Liza Koshy, Prajakta Koli, and Thembe Mahlaba will launch on 17 March on YouTube.com/Learning

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