Imposter Syndrome, Part II

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For the past 5 days, my head has absolutely been spinning. It was five days ago that I started orientation for my grad program; that I stepped foot on campus and realized, Oh crap, what have I gotten myself into? Meeting and chatting with my future classmates, I realized how excited I was to be surrounded by so many brilliant minds and fun personalities.Energy high, I went home, getting so excited to make plans to see these people again. 

But the more time I spent reflecting on my conversations, the more insecurities sunk in. All of the sudden, reliving my conversations, all I could think of was, “She was so much more accomplished than I am” or “Everyone else has way more international experienced and then I do”. Slowly but surely,m ever little doubt imaginable began to creep in. Before I knew it, I was experiencing a huge bout of imposter syndrome, 

Its strange to compare yourselves to others who are technically in the same spot as you are, Sure, all of these people that I am comparing myself to are in the same program as I am, so technically, we should be on the same playing field. But of course, it doesn’t feel that way. Out of nowhere, people will talk about all of the scholarships that they received, and how much the school recruitment them. I look at my student loan statement in shame, wondering if I was a pity admit because I have family members who are alums. Does my scholarship amount reflect directly how smart I am? Did the school want me less than they wanted some of these other people. 

Comparing yourself to others is natural, though not productive. Although I’ve felt some forms of imposter syndrome in the professional world, for some reason, it’s hitting me so much more in this school setting. Maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like school is my strong suit, and I already feel disadvantaged. Honestly, it’s hard to say. 

I share this not for pity; I share this so that others can feel like they aren’t alone in feeling like this. Over this week, I’ve tried to repeat a few mantras to myself to try to work through this feeling:

  • You can only measure successes against yourself. At the end of the day, the biggest person you are competing against is yourself, and the only best you can be is your best. Why waste time comparing yourself to others when the only person you can truly beat is yourself. 
  • Other people feel the same way when they talk to you. While you sit there in awe of others’ accomplishments, other people are likely to be comparing some piece of themselves against you too. The grass is always greener on the other side; we will always envy some parts of other people, as they will to us. 
  • YOU have skills that no one else has. Your experiences make you uniquely you, and you are the only version of yourself that exists. The skills that you bring to the table are skills that only you can bring, so use what you’ve got to distinguish yourself. 
  • Lean into it. If feeling intimidated by other people’s accomplishments, don’t sit and wallow. Think to yourself, how can I improve and get to that level? What conversations can I have that lift up my experiences and empower me? Ignoring those feelings will only make them worse, so embrace them and make the best of them!
  • You belong right where you are. No matter how out of place you feel, you are exactly right where you need to be; so go and make waves!

Imposter syndrome is something that so many young people deal with in feeling like they don’t belong in certain spaces or they don’t deserve their accomplishments. Ultimately, you control your narrative; don’t let imposter syndrome write your narrative for you.

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