Necole Kane has spent more than 12 years creating successful brands. With her gossip blog NecoleBitchie.com and her women’s lifestyle site xoNecole, and most recently with her PMS supplement company My Happy Flo, she’s had the Midas touch. Despite those achievements, she admits that she has struggled to shake the feeling that in all areas that she has entered, and excelled in, she doesn’t belong. “I just felt like an imposter my entire life. “Kane says. “I always feel as if I have these big ideas but I don’t think I’m qualified.”
I stood in Barnes and Noble this weekend with tears in my eyes as I read a full-page article in Essence about my impostor syndrome. The feature was appropriately titled “Get Out Of Your Own Head” with the sub-headline “Let’s talk about impostor syndrome and how it may be holding you back.” The writer reached out to me a few months back after she saw me tweet that I was stuck in a space between imposter syndrome and knowing I’ve done some really dope sh*t in my lifetime.
Ironically, this weekend was the 6th anniversary of me leaving the brand that put me on the map —NecoleBitchie.com. A day prior, my timeline was graced with tweets from people reminding me of what that day meant to them, and sending their virtual flowers.
I had a come to Jesus moment right there in the Barnes and Noble as I questioned why I couldn’t see myself in the same way as others saw me.
As a young black woman who grew up in poverty and found myself in night school during my final year in high school, I had a less than 1% chance of becoming successful. During that time, my first exposure to a powerful black woman and what I could ultimately be was Oprah. She showed up on my TV screen when I was 16, and I became obsessed with her story. I decided right then and there that I too wanted to be a media mogul when I grew up.
Oprah had a way of connecting with her audience that I loved, but I also noticed she spoke the King’s English (as a private speech teacher once put it), and I could barely construct my words right. I was country as hell, and when I made it to college, everyone reminded me of that as they mocked how I talked every time I opened my mouth.
Still, I knew that God had a vision for my life that was bigger than my imagination could hold.
And I decided that if I wasn’t going to talk my way to success, I’d write my way to success instead.
That is how I became a blogger.
In 2008, I was broke, unemployed, and sleeping in my aunt’s guestroom in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when NecoleBitchie.com was born. With no industry connections or access to celebs or top-tier events, I managed to grow a small blog of a few hundred followers to one that was read by over 20 million people monthly and becoming one of the most notable bloggers in the world. I had numerous offers to sell that brand but instead, I eventually shut the website down to rebrand into a platform that was more empowering, purposeful and represented the woman I was becoming. xoNecole was born out of a need to provide more safe spaces for black women online to be seen, heard, and celebrated. That brand had an acquisition offer in 2017, and I sold it to Will Packer Media while continuing on as the Editor In Chief to help xoNecole blossom as a media company. The irony is Will Packer Media had a deal with The OWN Network owned by Oprah, the woman I have always looked up to and inspired to be like.
xoNecole may not have made as much noise as Necole Bitchie, (there aren’t many calls coming in to be on these power women lists or as many features in magazines) but I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done over the last 5 years. From ElevateHer, to Pajamas & Lipstick and our Boss Up series, we continuously show up for Black women in a way that I can be proud of.
My Happy Flo was a company born out of my desire to help women boss up when it comes to their menstrual and overall health in the same way we were bossing up when it came to our business. Already it has investor interest, and it will one day have more impact than any other brand I’ve launched before (mark my words!)
I humbly ran down my resume because you’d think by now, I’d be screaming to the mountaintops:
I am the magic!
Shout out to Myliek Teele.
Every single room I’ve been invited to, I deserved to be there.
Every single table I have sat at, I deserved a seat.
Every magazine article, television feature, speaking engagement booked, and dollar I negotiated …I earned that.
But instead, this impostor syndrome has truly held me back from being the powerhouse God called me to be.
Impostor syndrome has caused me to spend years overworking while basing my self-worth on how full my plate could be, and how much work I could get done without taking vacations or breaks. It caused me to have no personal life and to take on the roles of about 8 people in 2019 and 2020, because I wanted to prove WPM made the right decision on acquiring my company, and I was deserving of the salary I negotiated.
It caused me to subconsciously create a company culture where my employees were scared to take time off in fear of looking as though they were slacking because they never saw me take time off.
They attempted to keep up with my intensity which was rooted in perfectionism but they had no idea my perfectionism was a trauma response as a result of never feeling like I was good enough.
And guess what? Everyone got burned out.
Truth be told:
My imposter syndrome is rooted in me knowing that statistically, I ain’t supposed to be here. So I feel as though I have to show up in the world in a capacity that most people won’t be able to meet.
Will Smith once said:
“If me and you were on a treadmill, one of two things would happen. Either you are going to get off first, or I’m going to die. I’m not going to let you outrun me.”
Every new brand I launch, I’m trying to outrun the next person but the gag is…. I don’t even know who I’m racing at this point.
And why I’m spilling this tea, don’t let me tell you how impostor syndrome has shown up in my personal life. I self-sabotage my way right out of joy the minute Prince charming shows up in a nice tailored suit and a wide smile, giving me too good to be true vibes.
And while everyone else is talking about dating up, my imposter syndrome has me dating a laundry list of men based on who I used to be (10 years ago), versus the woman I have evolved into today. If you’ve been subscribed to this newsletter since the beginning, you see how that’s been working out for me…
I didn’t mean to drag myself in a newsletter but I’m definitely tired of my sh*t.
Imposter Syndrome can be exhausting and stagnating. As black women, we are always showing up in the world trying to prove that we belong. That we are just as worthy of the bag, that amazing career, that dream home, financial freedom, good credit, a healthy love, and all the things as our non-black counterparts.
In the past, when we were too young to know any better, someone planted the seed, “Don’t get too big headed,” and we allowed that to shape how we showed up for ourselves and others. We were raised to believe that our confidence was arrogance and the celebration of our accomplishments was a lack of humility.
None of that is true.
As much as I loved the Essence article, I’m claiming today that Imposter Syndrome can no longer be a part of my narrative. I know my value, I know my worth and self-deprecation is not a part of my purpose here on this earth or who God called me to be.
In the words of Bozoma Saint John:
“Believe me when I tell you that I know I’m great. And I will tell everybody that I am great. I don’t wait for people to say I’m great. I don’t wait for people to praise me. I don’t wait for people to write articles. I’ve been doing that from the beginning, and I won’t stop.
I’ve earned every single minute of this. And I will celebrate it, and I’m unapologetic about it and I won’t stop ever. And so even as I continue to gain more success, I will continue to celebrate myself.
You have to amplify your own voice. Create your own story. Create your own narrative. Unless you do it yourself, no one is going to do it for you.
A special thank you to Victoria Uwumarogie for the amazing write-up and Marrsia Machulska for the illustration.