As a child I felt pressure to be a certain kind of perfect, so I wanted to look pretty and nice while my male cousins were running riot, that sort of nonsense. I wanted to marry a man and get a job. Now I am an adult my
aspirations have changed and I am a lot more confident about who I am. I’ve broken out of those narrow expectations, but I still feel a lot of pressure in terms of my career.
I am one of few black working-class women in my industry, which is dominated by white men. Most of the black women I see in the arts are personal assistants; none of them are working in a position that gives
them autonomy – although they usually end up running a lot of things anyway.
I definitely have impostor syndrome; that’s defined as self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that overrides any feelings of success. I didn’t have this so much before, when I was working in call centres, but I feel it now in a predominantly upper-middle- class environment. It’s weird being the only person of colour or the only one with a certain accent – it makes you feel as though you shouldn’t be there. I sometimes suffer so
much anxiety about sending an email, worrying about whether I will phrase it correctly. It’s silly because I’ve done well and proven myself, I have my own flat and a good job, yet that doesn’t feel good enough.
The pressure to be perfect feels heightened to me as a black woman because my mum always told me I would have to work harder than a white person to get ahead. It is true but it’s a self-defeating aspiration.
Perfection, or what society deems perfect, is not attainable for everyone, but it feels even further away for a woman of colour. The image of perfection is a certain physical type: a skinny woman with blond hair etc.
Those things are not even half attainable to you, and you sometimes feel you were born imperfect.