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Claiming Your Own Legitimacy

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we take a look at the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path to being freer, happier, and more self expressed. I'm your host, Erin Keating. Today's episode is fundamentally about confidence. Which is the precondition for hotness.

I want to talk a little bit today about legitimacy. I think a lot of women have a checklist in their heads of things that they need to be able to say that they've done or qualifications that they need to say that they have before they can do something. And I would argue that we are ready to do so much more than we think we are.

But [00:01:00] we put these blockers in our way, we put this criteria in our way, which actually the world does not require. Why do women think they need to know everything before they do anything? And I know this firsthand really well. And I'd like to interrogate this question because I think we need to get to a place where we can shift our thinking and we can sort of unearth some of these unconscious beliefs around legitimacy to get to the place where we say, I know enough.

I'll figure it out. Let's start now. And I want to give you permission to start now, even if you think you're not prepared enough. You know, my own story around legitimacy. Let's see. It's shown up throughout my life. You know, as a, as a little kid, I was tentative, I would dip my toe in the water first before I would dive in.

I was not a jump off the side of the pool without testing the water kind of kid. I was [00:02:00] cautious and that's sensible and that's great and that probably kept me from smacking my head. However, as a quality in a person, I think it can go too far. And for me, there was a moment before first grade, I was just six years old and I went crying to my mother and I said, I can't go, I can't go to, I can't go to first grade.

I don't know how to read. Like I was confessing this thing, this like, I don't, I have not met the criteria of first grade. So they, they won't allow me there and I, I should not be allowed to go to first grade and my mom was so compassionate. She was like, honey, they teach you to read in first grade. All you have to do is go.

And I think it's such an amazing metaphor for how much we take our lives that way. We handle our lives that way. We sort of, um, we sort of disqualify ourselves even before we've tried. When I was in high school, my [00:03:00] boyfriend at the time found out that John Waters was holding an audition for a movie he was going to make called Hairspray and I was an actor. He was an actor and, you know, high school actors. And he was like, fuck it, I'm going. And I went with him to the audition, but I did not audition. Even though John Waters is one of my lifelong idols. And, and one of the people who sort of opened up the world to me in a way that, um, showed me what, what wild creativity could, could yield.

My boyfriend auditioned. I decided in my head, I, I didn't have what it takes. I wasn't what they were looking for. Um, he auditioned, he got in, he was in the movie. He was in a whole bunch of John Waters movies after that. I mean. The things we hold ourselves back from because we decide in advance that we're not what they're looking for.

I changed schools in the middle of college. [00:04:00] I applied to one college to transfer to, and I ended up being very happy and graduated from there. But there was an Ivy League school that I really... God, I just thought I would really fit in there. That would be really good. Um, but I, I probably won't get in and I probably couldn't handle it if I went. And so I didn't apply. I already decided that it wasn't going to work, even though it was what my heart desired. So I was, I was sort of tripping an override switch in my brain and not allowing myself to go for the things that I wanted to go for.

Early in my career, I worked at a cable network. There was a television show that taped every week. I was obsessed with it. I never went to a taping. I just was like, well, what would I be doing there? You know, they would ask me, why, why are you here? What are you doing? I didn't even think I thought it through that much. I wanted it so much, I talked myself out of it. And I [00:05:00] think that is something that we do.

I can't be the only person in the world who does that? You know, I always felt like I needed some kind of permission. There's this term imposter syndrome that I hear a lot of people use. And for me, it's not even imposter syndrome so much as the rules I have in my head about my own. Acceptability, approvability, I really feel like there is this idea of permission and there's something we've got to do to give ourselves permission to take risks.

And you know, why, why are we like this? Why do we hold ourselves back or stop ourselves? What are we afraid of? And I think that we're afraid of... Being rejected, not being acceptable, being humiliated, being embarrassed. Yeah, and, and my, I think the only [00:06:00] answer to it is feel the fear and do it anyway. Because I felt so much fear throughout my career, and I just kept plodding forward.

Even as I held myself back from doing a lot of things, I also forced myself forward. And my answer to everything has always been work hard. Work hard, work harder and that's the thing to look at to write because people can be very successful without being the most hardworking person or the most grinding person. I do think successful people work hard but the grind that I felt I needed to do the extra that I felt I needed to do really, it took a lot of the joy out of the experience of the journey that I was on professionally. And I think a couple of things that I did right in my career is, you know, at a certain point I had been an assistant in the television business for several jobs and I just decided to fire [00:07:00] myself.

From that, you know, I had all the legitimacy that the, the places that I had were conferred upon me and I, I knew that I was too good an assistant to have anyone else ever fire me. So I had to do the firing. I had to fire myself and that was the only way that I ever got a promotion, never got a promotion internally, got a promotion for move firing myself and moving to the next level at the next place.

And I put in the reps in the roles that I had, meaning I did the same thing over and over again until I felt I was legitimate. And even when I felt I was legitimate, when I was moving to the next level, I was scared. And I didn't have a lot of the, I'll figure it out when I get there, kind of energy that I saw in my male colleagues who were rising through the ranks faster than me.

And I didn't have that fuck it in me. You know, fuck it is kind [00:08:00] of the opposite of legitimacy. Fuck it is like, yeah, I'll figure it out when I get there. Yeah, I'm, whatever, I can do anything. Like, fuck it is really what I'm trying to embrace today at 51 years old. But I think about how much more fun I would have had. How much less pressure I would have put on myself if I had been able to access some level of fuck it when I was younger, when I was sort of climbing in my professional career. I had a boss say to me in a job that I really loved, and this boss was a great mentor to me, and he said a kind of double edged thing to me.

He said, the only thing holding you back is a lack of confidence. And I thought to myself, God, like... He's right, and I fucking hate that he's right. And why did I not have the confidence? Because I hadn't seen, I hadn't sort of tested myself in the fire of every possible scenario. Because I was [00:09:00] afraid of showing up and looking foolish and clueless and not in the know.

But I think, you know, I channel, I channel Dolly Parton sometimes when I'm, when I'm feeling like I need some good mojo. And, you know, she said this amazing thing. She said, Hollywood is a money making joke. So what a way to control the narrative, right? She made herself into a larger than life figure. And then she went boldly into all the things that she went into in her professional life with all the talent and the skill and the capability.

Um, and the, the way that it ties to legitimacy is that she sort of claimed her own legitimacy. She said, you know, I'm a theatrical product. Underneath it is all the credibility and all the chops you possibly need, but she sort of made herself so uniquely unassailable [00:10:00] and made an assertion, you know, about her identity by looking so over the top, looking like the town harlot is what she says, um, who she modeled herself after God bless her so that.

She could make the money from being the joke and she claimed that as a legitimate approach. I fucking love it. So audacious. I love when I see evidence of audacity in women because we hold ourselves back and we. Have this level of perfectionism and, and dotting our I's and crossing our T's and, you know, there's something to be said for taking a risk and having faith in yourself and having the belief that you can learn as you go.

And that you don't need anyone else's permission to take on the next thing. Top secret, like, no one's really checking your resume. [00:11:00] HR might be looking at your resume when they're looking at you on LinkedIn, if that's the kind of career you have. But I, you know, I don't think anybody's really checking your resume.

You walk into the room and they decide whether they like you or not. And if you walk in with an air of legitimacy, with a like, Hey, I've done a lot of stuff. It's all relevant here and, you know, and I, and I'm going to really be a, I'm a fast learner. I'm going to learn it all and I'm going to go, um, and I'm going to crush this for you.

Where does that confidence come from? I think it comes from the way we talk to ourselves in our heads and the permissions that we give ourselves. And the ways in which we build ourselves up instead of beating ourselves down I think when you drill down to it like you know whether or not you can take on a challenge whether you think you're going to be successful at something and usually you manifest the things you think you're going to be successful at in life [00:12:00] and you know I had a couple of mentors professionally.

And in my last job, there was one person in particular who would walk into a room with so much passion, conviction, and vision that he would convince people that if they didn't come on board, he didn't sell hard. He was like, no, this is what we are and what we do and you need us. And so I'm going to say no to all the things you're asking for. I'm going to ask you for all the things that I think you should be asking for and take it or leave it in very high status rooms, in very high status situations with people who I would normally be so intimidated by.

But I watched his conviction and I watched his audacity and there is a power in boldness there is a power in sort of staking a claim and saying I know what I know and you want it and even [00:13:00] if you don't want it you need it. You should want it in my last job. No one had the experience that I had, so I was the default expert and I had to step up to that and claim that and say, Yeah, I actually kind of know how this is done.

This isn't the same environment, but I'm I'm going to figure out how we adapt what I know to this context. And that was hugely powerful for me to sort of say, I think I can invent this I think I can do this thing that no one's done before, like, let's have a conversation about how I, I want to approach it and give myself permission to like, be the leader I wanted to be to, to have the authority and gravitas that I believe that I had maybe finally earned.

Um, after 20 years, I think I finally gave myself permission to claim expertise once I was in it for 20 years. I really don't [00:14:00] want that to be the case for you. I want you to learn from the ways in which I've limited myself. And I do know that I come off confident and self assured, but so do a lot of people and you never know what's going on inside of them and what they're telling themselves about their legitimacy and most opportunities professionally are opportunities to learn while you earn and you can take on in your head like I'll learn it while I'm earning I'll get the job and they'll figure it out.

If you need permission, which I think a lot of us feel like we do I'm going to give you permission I'm going to give you permission to start right now at the thing that you you want in your deepest heart of hearts to do or be or try even if you think you're not prepared enough. I'm gonna give you permission to say to yourself I'll figure it out.

I've got enough collective experience [00:15:00] from my life from maybe from other areas of my life that are relevant here. I'm a capable human being I can take this on I give you permission to have faith in your ability to take risks and not fall flat on your face because even if you fall flat on your face, that's valuable.

That's valuable. And you'll take something away from that. You'll get up, you'll dust yourself off and you will have had that experience of failing and not dying. We don't die when we fail. We die when we die. And even if you're embarrassed from being underprepared or you're whatever, if you have to crunch or take a class or fucking call everyone you know and say, how do I do this?

You'll figure it out. You will figure it out. You are sufficiently legitimate to pursue whatever it is that your heart desires. You do not need the right resume. You do not need the perfect anything. You do not need to check [00:16:00] all the boxes. You made up those boxes. Metaphorically, of course, there may be boxes, actual boxes that you have to check.

I don't know. I don't think things literally work like that, but, but you get the point. I give you permission to start now. You are prepared enough. You are fucking legitimate and you're fucking hot.

Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. If you liked this episode, please follow the show on whatever platform you're listening to right now and tell your friends.

Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Gerard and PodKit Productions. Our associate producer is Lena Reibstein. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Isa Fernandez.

Come back next week. We have a lot more to talk about.


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