Why everyone feels like they’re faking it (New Yorker)
This is an outstanding examination of imposter syndrome, the ubiquitous term (disproportionately experienced by women) that describes internalized feelings of inferiority and a fear of being exposed as a fraud. The author covers the history of the terms and its subsequent misinterpretation and pathologization. Recent scholarship argues that it’s time to sunset the notion of imposter syndrome, as it unfairly obscures the role of systemic inequality by placing the locus of change on the individual. But perhaps we can acknowledge that the experience of feeling like an imposter is true for some, while also recognizing systemic forces that need to change.
How you feel about your job affects how well you parent your kids (Washington Post)
Perhaps the headline is self-evident to you. I know that when I think about times in my career when I was unhappy, unfulfilled or resentful at work, it certainly took a toll on my parenting—and overall well-being.
Recent research has confirmed that parents who had a sense of autonomy and efficacy at work were more responsive caregivers, and that their children had stronger social skills and fewer behavioral issues. This is true for both moms and dads, as well as blue collar and white collar parents. All of this reaffirms that workplace culture not only has an immediate impact on employees, but also ripples outward to families and—ultimately—our larger society.
If you or a loved one have been recently laid off, this article is important to read. The author performed a series of intensive interviews with high-performing individuals who had been laid off, as well as their spouses and children. The high level summary is:
The struggle to maintain self-respect in the face of job loss was palpable, particularly for men. For some, it made them prickly in everyday conversations, especially if the conversation was heading toward the state of their job-searching. The story was different for women: Most people in their lives saw little urgency in their job search, assuming that they would be happy to use the time to be a stay-at-home mom.
But the entire article is worth reading because it provides greater detail, including a nuanced discussion of the gendered differences.
When I was going into the office every day (pre-pandemic), I usually enjoyed my commute and looked forward to having time alone in my car to decompress. Now that I work from home, I love the efficiency and convenience that not having a commute provides. And yet, lately I’ve found myself working right up until my son gets off the bus shortly after 4, and that transition can be jarring.
Recently published academic work (summarized in this article) proposes that commuting serves as a “liminal space”—or transitional period—between home and work. This totally tracks for me, and serves as a welcome reminder of something I used to do when I first started working from home—building in a “substitute commute”. For me, this looked like taking the dog for a walk, listening to music or a podcast, or reading a book. The demarcation between the two spheres was helpful for me and allowed me to go into the evening with a clearer mind.
Everyone I know has felt that this has been the winter of perpetual illness. I can’t even begin to tell you how many boxes of Kleenex my family has gone through this month. This article summarizes research on family transmission of respiratory viruses, and the results are pretty staggering. If you have two or more kids, someone in your household has a respiratory virus for over half of the year (and this doesn't even count bacterial illnesses like strep throat! 🤯)
Earlier this month, I shared some tips and resources for talking to kids about race. In that vein, I wanted to let you know about another great resource. WeStories is an organization that helps families start and strengthen conversations with kids ages 0-8 about race and racism. I was a member when I lived in St. Louis (where they are based).
Sadly, they recently announced that, later this year, they would be closing the organization. However, they have committed to sharing their educational resources—which were previously only available to members—publicly, for all to access. I’m linking their PDF guides here for your convenience:
I’ve been working with a client about an ongoing internal tension she struggles with at work. During our initial consult, she described herself as “an artist trapped in an actuary’s life”. She’s naturally inclined to be enthusiastic, spontaneous, and creative—she’s ok risking failure to try a big idea. At the same time, her job is literally to assess and mitigate risk! She’s good at her job and has learned to value logic, data, caution, and systematic precision. But she was feeling increasingly stifled.
When we started working together, she described feeling that these two parts of her personality are are “at war” with each other. Now, she talks about them as two sides of a scale—they serve to balance each other out. Armed with language to better express her needs, she approached her boss about expanding her portfolio. Her new role allows room to innovate, but only after her more analytical side fully vets the potential for risk. Instead of feeling torn by these seemingly competing mindsets, she now views them as an asset.
What parts of you “fight” with each other?
Has this tension ever been productive for you? Do these two parts complement or equilibrate each other?
Are there ways to bring these two seemingly opposing sides in greater harmony with each other?
A Cup of Ambition is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.