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For Colored Girls Who Are Unsure

For Colored Girls who are unsure: Yes, Sis you are real and don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise

 As women, particularly women of Color we are often second guessing ourselves. This week alone, I’ve convinced myself a few times that I’m not the right person for a particular activity, that I’m just not quite ready, and that I don’t have a specific expertise in a particular area. There have been too many past moments where I’ve told myself that “I’m staying in my lane”, when in reality I was holding myself back. Impostor syndrome is a battle that many of us fight daily… but it’s a fight that we cannot quit. Overcoming and/or resisting impostor syndrome is an absolute necessity.

Quote by: Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

So…. How do we resist this thing?

Here are a few ways I try to practice daily:

Keep track of accomplishments

  • Frequently write and reflect on your accomplishments. Taking the time to review the things we’ve accomplished, overcome, and lived through, reminds us of our greatness. Far too often, we are focused on our failures, or “opportunities for growth”. We are so focused on “getting better” or “fixing” ourselves that we fail to acknowledge all of the amazingness that is innately in us. I can almost guarantee that if you sit down and reflect, you’d realize that you are a boss! When you reflect and track your accomplishments, you’ll likely come to see you’ve grown in areas you did not realize; you’ve accomplished small wins, you have likely forgotten; and perfected skills both professionally and personally. There are a few ways to do this: 1) Journal: Each evening spend time journaling about what you’ve accomplished during that day (no matter how small… write it down!). Look over your journal periodically each month; 2) Accomplishments Jar: Keep a jar (I keep mine on my kitchen counter) and set of small post its or note cards. Every time you accomplish something or do something you are proud of, write it down and place it in the jar. At the end of the year before thinking about resolutions for the next year, go through the jar and celebrate all those wins from the previous year; 3) Maintain thank you cards: I try to keep every thank you card I receive, especially from students and colleagues. On my lowest of days, I go through the thank you cards and they remind me that sometimes me doing something is what makes the difference, and other times, my mere presence is the difference. No matter how you might do it…. Keep track of how you’ve grown, what you’ve accomplished, and the difference you’ve made in the lives other others, and allow these accomplishments to remind you that you are ENOUGH!

Sister Circles are a must

  • It’s waaaaaay too hard to try and live this life alone. Especially when working in higher education as a woman of Color, Sister Circles are a must. Whether they are created in a formal capacity, or they happen informally, it is vital for us to stay connected with one another, to support one another, and to speak life into one another. Such spaces help for us all to build a coutnernarrative to the imposter narrative. Surrounding ourselves with likeminded women who believe in us and feed our souls remind us how capable we are, but also pushes us and provides a safe space to receive tough love when needed. When in such spaces, be vulnerable and open to receiving positive affirmations, and tough love so that you can continue to thrive and grow.

Photo credit: Black Graduate Women’s Photo Shoot, Joan Collier, PhD & Marvette Lacy, PhD, University of Georgia, March 2017

Give yourself the space and grace to grow

  • For many, grace is a word that is associated with particular religious beliefs. In full honesty, this is the way I often use it. However, here I use it to mean space for mistakes. Every now and then ish hits the fan and sometimes it’s our fault. We didn’t do something the way we should have, we caused a program to fail, we made a misstep at some point…. Life happens. These moments do not decrease the awesomeness of who we are. Holding ourselves to unrealistic perfectionist standards, will always cause us to second guess who we are and what we are capable of. Yes it is important for us to put our best foot forward, AND it’s also important for us to give ourselves grace when our best foot doesn’t happen. There is no growth without discomfort or risk… growth gets messy. When trying new things and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones, it is incredibly likely that we will face mess-ups and cause mistakes. You are more than the choices you’ve made, more than the sum of your mistakes, and more than any problems you might create. No matter what happens, your voice still matters and your work is still valuable.

 

So let me tell you this…. In case you were unsure, have forgotten, or needed to be reminded

You are enough

You know what you are doing

You are here for a reason

Your knowledge and experience is valid

We see you and you matter

You are enough

Your mistakes don’t make you any less valuable

The things you may not know, do not invalidate your expertise

Being in the presence of someone who may be better in a particular area does not make you any less capable

You are enough

Do not downplay who you are

Do not dim your light

Do not quiet your voice

Do not back up from the table

Do not convince yourself not to do it

You are enough

You are real

You are here for a reason

Know it. Believe it. Act like it.


Editors Note: These photos originally appeared on Cite A Sista and were taken as part of a Black Graduate Women’s Photo Shoot coordinated by Joan Collier, PhD & Marvette Lacy, PhD at the University of Georgia, March 2017. These photos were used with explicit permission from Drs. Collier & Lacy. For questions, please reach out to SisterPhD editor Brittany Williams, specifically,  at brittany@sisterphd.com.

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21 Comments

  • Reply Cathy Wray

    Great article! Very inspiring and true.

    April 21, 2017 at 6:20 pm
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      Thanks Mom! 🙂

      April 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm
  • Reply Carolyn Y. Council, PhD

    I am amazed that there are so many women of Color with the baggage you all seem to be carrying. Fortunately I have never needed any validation from anyone about who I am as woman of Color with a PhD. I worked for it, I got it, and it is mine. Strength of character, knowing who you are and what you have accomplished should fill you with tremendous pride and sense of purpose. If you can’t find a job (I am sure you already have one) then make one. Your comfort level should be wherever you are and with whom. Shine!

    April 22, 2017 at 2:54 am
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      Dr. Council, You are absolutely right: validation should come from within and not from others or a title. For many of us, due to lack of representation in work spaces, due to being the only PhD or terminally degreed person in our families, or even just consistently being undervalued, we e often need reminders that we indeed are enough. I think deep down we know, but it never hurts for someone to pull you aside and say “Sis, you got this! You are exactly what they need in this moment.” Thanks for your thoughts! It is important that we all keep lifting one another up!

      April 24, 2017 at 3:05 pm
  • Reply Mrs. Carter

    I am loving this support system for Women getting their Ph.D.’s… You are more then enough!

    April 22, 2017 at 8:39 am
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      I completely agree. This space is so needed!

      April 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm
  • Reply Jessica

    Well Dr. Lee!!

    This was an amazing read! I agree 110%! As a matter of fact, I am in California right now with the women who are my “sister circle”. We just presented at a professional conference and we TRULY rocked the house!! We Are Enough! Thank you for getting this down on paper!! It is a major key. We can still do like Kendrick Lamar said an “Be Humble” while celebrating our wins and accomplishments while still moving higher! We have to keep this message going and even share the secret with our Black men! Much appreciated!
    -Warmly Dr. Jess!

    April 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      Dr. Jess, you are so right! Being humble is key, while also making sure we are clear about who we are and our inherent worth. Keep rocking sis!

      April 24, 2017 at 3:01 pm
  • Reply Vernease Miller

    Wonderful article that I will share with others at my university. Thanks for the confirmations.

    April 22, 2017 at 3:23 pm
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      Thank you for reading and sharing Vernease! We need each other as reminders that we are enough!

      April 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm
  • Reply Cassandra

    Love… on so many levels!

    April 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      Thank you Cassandra! I appreciate the love!

      April 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm
  • Reply Brittany

    I saw this article as I was heading to my EdD orientation. It was much needed.

    April 22, 2017 at 11:34 pm
    • Reply Monekka

      Best of luck to you Brittany. I recently completed my EdD. It was a journey that I really enjoyed.

      April 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm
    • Reply Jasmine Lee

      Orientation! The start of something great. I’m glad you felt supporting by reading my post. I’m wishing you all the best in your journey! Feel free to reach out if you ever need extra support: jasmineanlee@gmail.com

      April 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm
  • Reply Daphina

    Thank you for this article! Needed the boost!

    April 24, 2017 at 3:42 pm
  • Reply Marilyn Martin, DBA

    Thank you for sharing this powerful story and space where “Sistah Docs” can network and support one another. It is much needed and appreciated!

    April 24, 2017 at 8:43 pm
  • Reply DR. SHANTELLA SHERMAN

    Yes!!! What a brilliant article. Even with the support of family, friends and mentors, I recognize that others were not so lucky to have the encouragement of those who had braved the stacks, deconstructed the narratives, and made their own marks on the discourse. Bless you, Ladies for supporting one another!

    April 27, 2017 at 2:03 am
  • Reply william garcia

    Black womanist power is a beautiful thing and I wish that for every Black girl. But at the same time: How does Black female empowerment, that emphasizes sisterhood and independence, fit into a heterosexual relationship? Where do men, boyfriends, husbands fit in this conversation? Are men still valuable?

    April 30, 2017 at 2:29 pm
  • Reply Lorri D. Jenkins

    Well done and right on time! Blessings to you. This gave me the life I needed for today!

    June 15, 2017 at 12:50 am
  • Reply Cheryl Hall-Russell

    As I trudge through edits of my Chapter 5, I needed this message. This journey will make you question yourself, no matter what you’ve accomplished prior to embarking on the doctoral process. I had to remind myself that I am a good writer, I am an expert on this topic and my voice is important–repeat! Now back to work! I defend next month LOL!

    September 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm
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