“I don’t deserve to be here,” “I feel like a fake,” and “I must not fail.” Do any of these phrases sound like you? If so, you might have imposter syndrome. This is a common affliction amongst students and people in the workplace, affecting all ages and genders. You feel like a “fake” and doubt your own success, which can cause feelings of stress, inadequacy, or even depression.
Starting college is an exciting time, but it can also be a source of anxiety. It’s easy to question whether or not you belong there, especially when you are surrounded by many other smart, hardworking students. Here we’ll show you how to recognize imposter syndrome and how to overcome it, so that you can feel confident and comfortable in your own skin when starting college.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is when an individual has feelings of being a “fraud,” and doubts their own accomplishments. This can take many forms, such as feeling you didn’t deserve some prize or award, or feeling that you only scored highly on a test through luck. Fear of tests and a tendency for perfectionism are also common side effects of Imposter Syndrome.
Many highly successful people have admitted to struggling with Imposter Syndrome, such as Emma Watson, Maya Angelou, and Tom Hanks. Studies have shown that men and women both experience it equally, and that it is especially prevalent among college-aged students. Minority students can often be even more strongly affected by imposter syndrome. If you already feel out of place due to your minority status, that can worsen the feelings of being an imposter caused by the academic pressures of college.
The causes of are not fully understood, but there are some theories. Both internal and external pressure to succeed, from your own perfectionism to the expectations of parents and teachers, are key causes of imposter syndrome. Being in a competitive environment where are you being regularly evaluated on your performance (such as college) can also worsen these feelings.
It’s important to keep track of your mental health, and recognizing imposter syndrome and its causes is the first step to overcoming it.
Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
1. It happens to everyone
Nearly everyone experiences it at some point in their lives, and it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many individuals with imposter syndrome can go on to achieve great things, and you are no exception.
2. Talk about it
Opening up about your feelings of inadequacy to your friends and family can help you realize that you are not alone. They will remind you of your achievements and all that you should feel proud of. You will remember just how valuable you truly are after listening to their love and appreciation.
3. Recognize the success of others
Let your friends know that you are proud of their success. Hearing your recognition will make them feel valued and remind you to be proud of your own successes, too.
4. Recognize your own success
It can be easy to dismiss your accomplishments as unimportant or minor, but you shouldn’t ignore them. Be proud of your triumphs, no matter how great or small, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.
5. Remember failure is a chance to grow
Everybody has setbacks. If you see failure as an opportunity for progress (rather than a tragedy), you’ll be less afraid of falling short.
6. Attribute success to internal factors
Many people with imposter syndrome put their achievements down to luck or factors outside their control. Try instead to view your success as having been caused by your own actions. You achieved that grade on your test because of your own hard work and effort.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others
It’s easy to compare yourself to talented people around you and feel down about your capabilities. Instead, focus on your own unique qualities and improving yourself, and don’t let other people define what success means for you.
8. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress
Churchill said that “perfection is the enemy of progress.” Holding yourself to unrealistic standards can make you forget what you’ve already achieved. Remember everything is a work in progress and acknowledge how far you’ve already come.
9. Remember that you belong
Wherever you get, it is because of your hard work and talent. You are there for a reason, and you belong there with everyone else!