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Impostor Syndrome and the Ambitious Latina.

By Michelle Gomez, The Latina Career Coach.

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The Imposter Syndrome, that dreaded, negative internal voice that simply won’t give us a break.

No matter how hard we’ve worked, or how much we’ve accomplished, the internal dialogue within our consciousness still seems to echo sentiments of inadequacy, lack of credibility, and no real joy in what was just achieved. An estimated 70 percent of the population experience the Imposter Syndrome in their lives, as this psychological phenomenon impacts everyone from graduate students to CEO’s. It is very likely that someone you highly admire has something to say about this subject matter. As if that weren’t enough to work through, as Latinas, we also face cultural implications around being an ambitious woman and the challenges we still face in the corporate/business structure today.

When I first started my career in the corporate structure, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t just about being financially secure. I wanted to learn, grow, and ultimately make a name for myself. I started my professional career in logistics, an industry that initially did not welcome young Latinas as potential leaders. Due to this, my ambition went un-nurtured for the first four years of my career. At the age of 23, I accepted a new role at a Riverside-based logistics company, was paired up with a boss who believed in me, and started to grow in both my professional abilities as well as my personal brand of excellence. My boss at the time, was a middle-aged, white male. He sent me to training courses, leadership development seminars, and advocated for me in rooms where I wasn’t always present. He did all he could to help me, but there were still situations where being a woman meant that I couldn’t come along.

In those moments where I felt stagnant, I took time to read and dive into some of the things that may be holding me back. I didn’t have low self-esteem. I was very clear on my abilities and desire to learn. What was it? I picked up a copy of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and found the terminology that framed my thought process – Impostor Syndrome. As I challenged these thought patterns within myself to help overcome any self-sabotaging, internal rhetoric that I was subconsciously buying into, it also occurred to me that many of the positions I was looking to fill (a.k.a. getting a seat at the table), were positions that hadn’t previously been filled by Latinas prior to me. I decided then and there that I was going to break the mold and challenge the status quo. I was also going to advocate for more entry points to allow the women who came after me to land those roles with the same level of credibility and empowerment as the male candidates.

I worked on my internal thought process, inventoried my professional aptitude, and continued to put myself out there for opportunity to find me. Once that shift in mindset came, a company aggressively pursued me, and I was able to interview confidently and negotiate my salary from a place of self-worth. My Impostor Syndrome thoughts, nor the nagging commentary of, “You know that they will never value a woman (not to mention a Latina), for the salary you’re asking for. Just take what you can get and be happy”, weren’t invited to this interview. I spoke from a position of power, poise, knowing who I was and what I had to bring to the table.

Since the release of my first book, Own Your Brilliance: Overcome Impostor Syndrome for Career Success, I have launched my company, Michelle Gomez Coaching LLC, where my unique approach to career advancement is designed to help other women achieve their next promotion or career transition with an emphasis on personal branding, effective negotiation, and the design of a healthy work/life balance. Ambitious women everywhere have the ability to do very well at work and at home, without sacrificing your dreams, your health, or your families. My clients receive the career clarity and access to the tools, resources, and strategies that are required for the Ambitious Woman to achieve her goals.

To the ambitious Latinas everywhere…you are worthy, capable, and deserving of the goals you have set before you. Your children deserve a mother they can brag about. The Latina wage gap is still 47 percent, today. We have work to do. I look forward to seeing you at the top.

Michelle Gomez is an accomplished corporate executive with over two decades riding the waves of the corporate structure as a first-generation Latina-American. The first in her family to graduate from college, she has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and a certification in Broadcast Journalism. She lives in Southern California with her husband Mark and two daughters, Mikala and Madeline.