Spring Break is over, and now it’s back to getting serious! Got to focus on getting this year done and out of the way, and getting ready for next year. I won’t lie, I am very nervous for next year, as I will, hopefully, be writing my thesis and getting the Hell out of here. I’m not saying that I don’t love it here, cause oh my God I do. I have not had more a glorious experience at a school, than I have had here. However, there are things that keep the majority of students from having a really great time here, especially academically. The biggest thing that does that to us, is this thing called Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is where you, a high-achieving individual, feels as if you are a fraud, a sham, a failure. It is where you feel as if you don’t deserve the success you have achieved, or where you can’t even accept the successes you have achieved. The thing is, with Imposter Syndrome, you don’t really discuss your feelings on the subject with others. For the fear of being discovered or seen as a fraud is more important than seeking validation, or even better, help.
I think what gives me the confidence to be able to write this is the fact that I have dealt with Imposter Syndrome for a very long time, not just in my years here at New College of Florida. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was a very bright student. I still like to think I am, but back then, I felt like I actually knew it and I was confident in my abilities. Around the halfway mark of middle school, I transferred schools to a more demanding charter school on a college campus. I was surrounded by students that were brilliant! Even though I was lopped into that group through the eyes of my peers and mentors, taking high school level math courses in eighth grade, then transferring a year early to the college campus to take math courses.
Needless to say, I have had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of. The part that freezes all that for me, and makes me feel useless, is I feel that because of my depression and anxiety, I don’t deserve to be at the level I am.
Last semester was a perfect example. I took a class with one of my favorite professors, titled “Religion & Gender.” I passed with flying colors, as my evaluations say, however, going through that class day to day was extremely difficult. Everyday I would walk into class, having something I wanted to discuss from the reading from the night before. I would sit and listen to everyone else first, then toss my ideas out the window. My papers in that class always received a satisfactory, and I always got good comments, but I always felt like a fraud being in that class.
I was the only first year in that class, and of course, the youngest. My peers had more time to really research and read more than I had been able to. There was one girl in the class who I looked up to the most, but made me feel the most insecure about myself. For sake of conversation, let’s call this person Joy.
Joy was very intelligent in this field. She would come to class everyday having something to say about the reading that was so detailed and backed up with information, that it blew my basic comprehension out of the water. I envied Joy for the longest time. One day my professor for that class, Dr. Marks, pulled me aside, realizing that I had issues speaking up in class. She gave me the best academic advice I feel like I have ever received, and that was to set lower expectations for myself, so when I achieve them, I will feel far better about myself, and will eventually be able to reach those higher goals with ease. Dr. Marks, when I told her how I felt about discussing things in class, how I felt about Joy and the other students, told me that basic is just fine. If I wanted to discuss how something made me feel or what I thought right off the bat after reading the first two paragraphs, that was perfectly fine. As long as I try.
As the next semester rolls around, I had the opprotunity to become closer with Joy, and we saw each other more often. One day I told her how I felt about having class with her the semester before, and how I felt being in that class. I told her how I thought she was very smart, but because of that I felt incompetent. She was taken aback, and visually shocked. She told me that she had felt the exact same way about me and what I had to say in that class, and she felt like she wasn’t good enough.
Needless to say, it was a funny encounter.
Imposter Syndrome affects probably every student at my school. I know for me, it really hits hard because I am moving twice the speed through the program, compared to the other first years. Instead of finishing the program in 4 years, I will be done in 2.
I’m already halfway through.
That being said, I feel as if I don’t deserve these achievements I have scored, and I could never be as good as other upper-years. But sometimes I have to take a step back and realized, I have kicked my own ass millions of times to get where I am, and I won’t let those ass kickings be for nothing. Not only that, but I will not let all those years of my mothers motivation be wasted on me failing because I didn’t feel good enough. Because dammit I am good enough, and so are you.
What makes you feel the most insecure? Work? School? Relationships?
Shoutout to New College of Florida for a great first year!
If you would like to read more in detail about Imposter Syndrome click here, to visit the American Psychological Association that has a great outline on what it means to have Imposter Syndrome.