WEEK #38: BRITTANY ALMEIDA
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Kingston, and now live in Toronto. Making the move from Elginburg (a tiny rural town just outside of Kingston) to Toronto last year was a big leap of faith to pursue my dream of working in sports. My family emigrated from Portugal to Kingston, so soccer has been a huge part of my life since I could walk… Seriously, my grandfather tried to teach me how to walk with a ball at my feet. As it turned out, training hard (and hitting the books) payed off. I played on the varsity women’s soccer team at Queen’s University for five years, three of which we punched our tickets to the National Championships. From there, I moved to Toronto to obtain my post-graduate certificate in Sport & Event Marketing at George Brown College. Today, I feel extremely fortunate to have turned my love for sport into a career and now work on the Brand Partnerships team at The Sports Network (TSN).
Please share a story about an internal or external barrier you have faced.
Growing up, I was very fortunate to have had an incredible support network in my family. From the age of 12 through to 17, I played for a soccer club in Ottawa as it was the closest team in the provincial soccer league. My parents made the two-hour trek from Kingston to drive me to practice three days a week, and Toronto every weekend for games… week-in and week-out for five years, so that I could achieve my dream of playing varsity soccer for one of the most successful programs in the country.
Playing for Queen’s was an incredible experience and I will forever reflect on the happy memories with my teammates. What I try not to think about is the nagging feeling that I had throughout my time on the team; a feeling that I still struggle with to this day. Known to some but felt by many, a dirty little secret known as ‘Imposter Syndrome.’
This psychological phenomenon reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful. I often find myself in this mental pattern where I doubt my accomplishments and feel an internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. I don’t deserve to be here, to play on this team, to work here. My accomplishments are the result of serendipitous luck. It impacts women every day. It goes something like this: You get the promotion at work, and your inner narrative is that they must have been short on candidates, or they’re going to realize that you really aren’t qualified for the job. It can become exhausting.
However, it’s much more common than I initially thought. Upon speaking with other women who work in sports, I was surprised at just how many people this affected. It was only when we spoke about it out loud to one another did we realize just how untrue our thoughts were. We were able to acknowledge the thoughts and put them in perspective, observing them instead of engaging with them.
How did you overcome that barrier? What skills did you develop in sport to help you overcome your barrier?
In sports, it’s easy to find ways to validate your efforts and outcomes: a goal scored, a win, a trophy, a championship title. Beyond the field, it gets a little trickier.
The good news is, soccer helped me to develop skills to deal with the nagging self-doubt that occasionally creeps into my mind. The ability to manage pressure, overcome failure and work harder than my opponents are what earned my spot on the soccer pitch growing up. I’ve carried that same mentality with me beyond the goalposts. In my life, my job, my work, I have earned my place. I am smarter than I think I am. And I know more than I give myself credit for. Soccer truly equipped me with the ability to remind myself of that every day.
If you had one word to describe your character, experiences or philosophy what would it be? Why?