Imposter Syndrome

By Joshua Green

You have studied hard. You have studied very hard and for long hours to get to where you are right now. You have fought against the naysayers, the unbelievers and the obstacles. You have finally got to your first day of studying your dream subject, researching your passion or landing that dream graduate job.

But you feel unsatisfied. You feel like you haven’t worked hard enough. You feel like you don’t belong in the position you’re in and that people all around you deserve it far more than yourself. People praise you left, right and centre but it feels at best weakly complimentary and at worse fake and undeserving. You feel like you are going to be found out and rooted out of the course.

You feel like an imposter.

The feeling of anxiety so severe that it makes you attribute your success to luck. The way of thinking that leads one to disregard accomplishments achieved. A feeling that makes you avoid showing any form of confidence in yourself. A feeling and state of mind that makes you believe that you are living as a fraud.

You are not a fraud.

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a term that was coined in 1978 by Dr Clance and Dr Imes. This term was created to label the collection of irrational fears of very high achieving individuals who would not accept their own merits. The concept of how the syndrome exists has evolved over time. It has become to be understood as a mind-set that affects the vast majority of people. It is indeed a horrible sensation that you, the reader, has probably felt or feels right now. The writer of this article has certainly felt this feeling. Talking from personal experience, accumulating two master-level degrees, I feel this fear of being an imposter each and every day. These feelings cannot be defeated easily but I, amongst many others, try to live by forms of rational thinking that drive me to fight these insecurities.

Noticing these feelings is the first step. Often there are times in where you need to notice the patterns of thinking you go through each day. It’s hard to constantly be aware of how you think especially when you have that important deadline, that social you need to go to, that time you’re hanging out with friends or just that time you need to reheat that day old spaghetti! It’s worth the energy of being vigilant to have the power of knowing how you feel.

Then the ability to discuss these fears with the people closest to you is also important. The feeling of inadequacy is very common so there is always common ground. There are many of your friends who are likely to feel the exact imposter syndrome you are feeling right now. Talk to them. Try to understand your fears and they will become easier to tackle each day.

When you have identified and talked with your trusted friends or allies, challenge those feelings. It is hard to do this. Of course it is! What was also hard was being able to get where you are now being able to read this prestigious university’s newspaper article. Your allies will help challenge the syndrome and re-enforce the narrative that you worked hard.

Remember this, you deserve to be reading this article. Remember that your hard work is represented by your very presence at a top Russell group university. Remember that many people believe in you and will remind you…

You are not the imposter, the syndrome is.

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