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  • Odette Ojeda Rivera

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome as a Latina Professional

As we move up the ladder of success in the U.S., we find ourselves in rooms where fewer people look like us. Being a Latina in higher ed or professional spaces can be a lonely experience that could make us question how we got there and if we deserve to be in those spaces. It can make us question our abilities, qualifications, and experience. Latinas have unique challenges when it comes to feeling like an imposter in the workplace. These challenges include language barriers, cultural differences, color, and being first-generation professionals in our families. We often find ourselves having to find our way without guidance or help from our families, who may not be familiar with the systems we are navigating. The effects? Latinas could feel they are not good enough for their success. Imposter syndrome can be challenging, but you can conquer it with the right tools and mindset. Let's talk about how Latinas experience imposter syndrome and what we can do to overcome it.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is a mental phenomenon where individuals doubt their accomplishments and skills and, instead, fear being exposed as fraudulent or incompetent. It is often linked to feelings of low self-esteem and insecurity, which can lead to self-sabotage in the workplace.

Struggles Faced by Latinas

In the case of Latinas, some cultural values are things we have internalized and may have a negative role in why we experience imposter syndrome. For example, Latino(x) culture values humility and considers pride rude or undesired. Therefore, Latinas often learn to undermine their achievements, as showing pride in ourselves could mean getting undesired attention and criticism from members of our culture.

The lack of diversity in specific industries is another issue. When we see ourselves thriving in spaces where we may be the only Latina, the only woman, or any other type of "other," we often may feel like we may not belong in those spaces and internalize those feelings by asking ourselves, "Do I belong in this space?" or "Am I good enough to be here?". The answer to those two questions is "Yes!". More often than not, Latinas face and overcome more challenges than other more privileged groups to get to success. So, yes, you belong there and are more than good enough. So, when you hear that little negative voice inside your head, fill you with doubt, take note, challenge it, and turn on a kinder, gentler voice that reminds you just how good you are. Another issue contributing to imposter syndrome is having limited access to mentors or role models who look like us (making it hard for us to see ourselves succeeding). So, get out there and build a network of inspiring and supportive Latinas or Women of Color.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

The good news is that there are ways for Latinas to combat imposter syndrome! Here are some tips on how to overcome these feelings:

  • Acknowledge your feelings – Be honest with yourself about how you're feeling; this will help you identify your triggers so you can work on overcoming them.

  • Reach out – Connecting with other professional women (Latinas and Women of Color in particular) who understand your struggles can be a great source of support and motivation. You can also find mentors or role models who look like you and can provide guidance and encouragement as you progress in your career.

  • Celebrate successes – Don't forget to celebrate wins no matter how small; this will help boost your confidence and give you the motivation you need for future endeavors!

  • Practice mindfulness – Take time each day for meditation, yoga, journaling—whatever helps center yourself mentally; this will help reduce stress levels which often trigger impostor syndrome symptoms.

  • Speak up – Don't be afraid of speaking up at work - share your ideas and opinions confidently, as this will show others that you have something valuable to contribute! Of course, it is okay to practice before this if necessary and until you build the skills and confidence.

  • Change your perspective – Remember that everyone experiences impostor syndrome at some point - no one is perfect! Work on changing your mindset from seeing yourself as an 'imposter' into viewing yourself as someone capable of achieving success despite any perceived limitations or obstacles.

Imposter syndrome may seem daunting, but with the right tools, support system, and attitude, Latina professionals can overcome feelings of inadequacy and reach new heights of success! Remember that everyone has a unique journey. Celebrate your accomplishments, big & small! Your success is attributed to your skills and resilience, not luck! You deserve a seat at the table because you have worked for it, probably more than most in that room! So, own your badassery, chingona!

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