This week was the most DREADED yet at the same time EXCITING week of the entire year for me (corona notwithstanding). Huge. HUMONGOUS. Over the top dramatically epically important. A career-maker or breaker (or well, at least it was, in my head). A week that I spent two months working my ass off for, and then two more months waiting for in pure desperate enthusiasm (interesting combo, no?). And all of that after already slaving away for 4 months previously. It’s been a madhouse, this 2020, workwise.
It’s what I get for choosing a career in Bid Management – which is an occupation ruled by cycles like these. You work on a bid, turn it in and then wait for a despicable too-long amount of time to get your results back, all the while hoping, praying and begging for a win. And if, like myself, you work on two bids at the same time, that both get results back in the same week, in the first 6 months of your switch to this career – you might imagine the importance AND dread that comes with it.
So this week – today and Friday – were the set dates of receiving the final selection (aka winners) for the two large bids I’d been working on these past few months. Bids that were not just important for me personally, but also for the entire company and every person involved (although, I guess, that’s pretty much always the nature of bids this large). So when not one but both of the decision letters landed in my mailbox today, you can pretty much see my shaking hands and tight lips and excita-scared moments before opening them, right?
WE WON BOTH OF THEM.
Which, in and of itself is AWESOME.
GREAT. ‘GEWELDIG’. EPIC. SUPER –please add in some other superlatives matching to such an occasion-. They are big wins. Very visible. Making people extremely extremely happy. And they’re a confirmation that the new approach to bid-deals (introduced when I joined the team and built around my writing capabilities) is WORKING. Well enough to have us win these bids that we more often lost than won these past few years. With me currently sitting comfortably at a 4.5 out of 5 win-rate for the deals I worked on (which is extremely high, as I’ve been guaranteed).
Yet here I sit.
Party-pooping my own party.
Because apparently I am THAT kind of person.
Looking at these letters and feeling more sad than happy because we didn’t get the grades I’d expected, wanted and think we deserved.
It’s a side-effect of the impostor syndrome that I’ve become all too familiar with these past few months (not only because I read up about it on like 10 other blogs after discovering that there was a term for how I feel, but also because suffering from it has been a constant in my life). A side-effect (or so most of the studies say) of having a high education/intelligence combined with a crushingly low self-confidence. Well. That’s me down to a tee, if you ask me.
Impostor syndrome can take many forms (do read up on it if you’re interested). Five types, actually, if you believe the science. Five types which I’ve all belonged to in the past, or present.
There’s ‘the Perfectionist’ (always striving to be perfect, but never perfect enough) and the ‘Superman’ (feeling like a phony in comparison to the true greats all around you). I’ve been ‘the Natural Genius’ (where you feel like you’re smart, but chiding yourself for being dumb because you’re taking too ‘long’ to pick up a new skill. If you WERE smart you’d be able to ‘get it’ faster). The ‘Soloist’ (where asking for help feels like you’re showing people your weakness and ‘phoniness’, aka, you HAVE to do everything alone) AND ‘The expert’ (where you fear that, despite knowing a lot, you’ll come across as unknowledgeable or incapable).
Hell, I’m a complete mix of all of these, all at the same time. Always. Which…in general….can be a struggle. A fight – me battling myself to ensure myself that these are mere thoughts and not reality. Trying to corroborate that with all the evidence I can get (that I then, as the true impostor syndrome sufferer that I am, easily discard).
For me it mostly manifests as a ‘not good enough’. The feeling that you don’t belong. That you’re not good enough for where you’re at in your workplace (or friendgroup, or family or whatever). That you’re desperately trying to hide the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing, lack knowledge, can’t do the work or are just generally ‘lacking’.
A feeling of suspense. Constantly thinking you’re ‘going to get caught’ (or as we Dutch say ‘dat je door de mand gaat vallen’) for being a fraud. It’s harrowing. But at the same time it makes you feel so so alive. It keeps me on edge, makes sure I keep working at ‘preventing my downfall’. I use it to my advantage, that feeling of insecurity and ‘unsafeness’. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself these days.
So when we got the news of our wins – naturally I rejoiced. For a few minutes. Posted it cheerily in all the different work apps, mailed it to all the people who HAD to see this AWESOMENESS. Reveled in the weight that’d been lifted from my shoulders.
And then I did ‘my thing’. Because then I saw our ‘winning’ grades and decided that they weren’t good enough. These wins were supposed to have been decisive. Undeniable. Perfect. And they weren’t.
When it came to ‘my wins’ I see them as follows: one win was beginner’s luck. Two wins was a coincidence. Three wins was a pattern and this 4th and 5th win should have made it undeniable that our way of working, indeed, was golden. And it didn’t. Or. Not enough, to my taste. The grades were decent. 5th place (out of 26) on the one, 2nd (out of 22) on the other. But there were a few 6’s. A few 8’s. Only 1 10 as the scores on individual items. And I’d expected better of myself. Of my team. Of us. Regardless of the fact that we left out an entire line of competitors in deals we previously would’ve lost.
There’s an entire company rejoicing over the two big wins and people thanking us on their knees for ‘saving’ their actual entire jobs. And I sit here thinking about how we should’ve done better. And somewhere, in my head, it doesn’t make sense. But another voice says ‘but at least you’ll always be trying to improve’. I just wished I could do that while feeling happy about things like these a bit more, and a lot longer. Fucking impostor syndrome.
And – as a personal victory: WordPress just notified me that I hit 1000 followers. You guys are awesome for putting up with my craziness!
I think today SHOULD go down in the books as a good day. Regardless of my lizard brain. Huzzah!