I am intimate with the feeling of Imposter Syndrome. I think many people are. I’ve come to hold the belief that it is positive – if I don’t feel like an imposter then I’m not stretching my potential. But the feeling is still cringe-inducing. It’s like the cringe of a naked public speaking dream, but without the feeling of relief that comes from waking up. I’ve begun to document the moments when it is most visceral for me. Listing these things out has been cathartic. This isn’t really meant to be about gender or age, although those are relevant for me. This is simply about the feeling of not belonging.For me...– Imposter syndrome is reflecting on a business trip - 15 meetings, 22 high powered people - observing that only one of those 22 handshakes was with another woman. What year is it again?– Imposter syndrome is leading a company all-hands meeting and wondering why all these people are listening to me and why they just laughed at that dumb joke.– Imposter syndrome is deliberately saying, “I sit on the exec team,” to my family because saying “I am an executive” makes me want to curl up like a rollie-pollie - it doesn’t feel or sound right.– Imposter syndrome is when an interview candidate tells me about their fourth job - the one they started in 1992. The voice in my head that wants me to feel small reminds me that I was still learning to speak in 1992. Then, I proceed to evaluate the candidate on their management abilities.– A friend I trust has told me that imposter syndrome is simply where insecurity and privilege intersect - it is the privilege of being in the room plus the insecurity of not belonging in the room. I can’t think of a less flattering venn diagram. But I agree.– Imposter syndrome is when I call the CEO of another company from my cell phone. He answers and asks, “Who is John Franklin? That is what my caller ID says.” I respond, “John Franklin is my dad. I’m still on his cellphone plan...” Painful pause. “I pay my portion monthly...” Painful pause. The CEO responds, “My kids are still on my plan too.” And then I push ahead and lead this call.– Imposter syndrome is that mosquito-like persistent thought bubble that reads, “Who the hell am I to [fill in the blank].” Can other people see that bubble?– Imposter syndrome is every time I need to introduce myself and give my “professional background” on a call. Mine could take 3 seconds.– Imposter syndrome is getting promoted 5 times in 3.5 years. Wtf. Why me?– Imposter syndrome is someone older than me asking (earnestly) if I will be their mentor. Ha.So how do I cope with it? I’m doing it now - acknowledging it, naming it, sharing it, and trying desperately to accept it. Writing these things down helps me find some perspective and peace. Sharing these things helps me see how pervasive it is for others.On a good day, the feeling of embarrassment shifts to amusement - amusement at the absurdity of it all - and the feeling of shame becomes that of pride - pride in stretching myself. But that is the glamorous and slightly disingenuous version. On a bad day these tiny things still stir up enough embarrassment and shame to make me physically squirm. Maybe I should just rollie-pollie and blast Adele.In Dare to Lead, Brene Brown writes, “If you put shame in a petri dish and cover it with judgement, silence, and secrecy, you’ve created the perfect environment for shame to grow until it makes its way into every corner and crevice of your life. If, on the other hand, you put shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, shame loses its power and begins to wither. Empathy creates a hostile environment for shame - an environment it can’t survive in because shame needs you to believe that you are alone and it’s just you.”I’m sharing this because I think I’m not alone.Emma Stubbs is the VP of Strategy at CircleUp, a technology-enabled investment platform on a mission to help entrepreneurs thrive. Prior to CircleUp, Emma was a Director at Redstar Ventures, a startup foundry combining business model development and venture investments under one roof. Emma began her career at Innosight, Clay Christensen’s global strategy and innovation consulting firm, spending the bulk of her time with clients in Europe, helping to launch white-space business models and innovation capabilities across a range of industries. Emma graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a Bachelors in Neurobiology.