Imposter Syndrome and why you’re doing fine

We are coming into the final stretch of the 2019-20 school year and the anticipation for summer is in full effect. Weeks are feeling like endless months and it seems like this year will never end. In a time like this, mental health is a priority for everyone as we move into  the season of river bugs, LUaroo, finals and commencement.

While mental health articles often focus on state-of-mind politics and the appropriate resources for keeping yourself mindful and healthy, this article will focus more on celebrating the strength of those in our community that are under a great deal of pressure and mental unrest and the courage of overcoming those daily obstacles that can add a bitter taste to life.

One source of this mental unrest is this idea that clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes coined as “imposter syndrome” in 1978. Imposter Syndrome occurs when a person doubts the validity of their accomplishments and lives in a constant fear that they are living the life of an “imposter.”

This type of attitude is so easily adopted on a college campus, especially in times when classes are putting down a lot of pressure, when summer jobs and internships are lurking on the horizon or a new post-graduation life less than a month away. The doubt creeps in: 

“I just got a B on another paper. This class is just too hard for me.”

“Everyone else seemed to do well so I guess I’m just not smart.”

“I guess I wasn’t even cut out for college life.”

“I don’t have enough experience for that internship. I shouldn’t even apply.”

The crazy thing about these thoughts, though, is that they have no real backing in real life. You are gaslighting yourself; you are shifting your perspectives to fit an “imposterous” reality. The truth is, you would not be sitting in your college classroom to even get that B if it were too hard for you to handle. And guess what: everyone else in your class thought that quiz was insane too. It likely had faulty or unfair questions. If you were not cut out for college, a board of admissions specialists would have dropped your application in the garbage, yet here you are! And those internships have not gotten a single applicant that is as unique, clever, innovative and as hardworking as you.

Imposter Syndrome is impossible to avoid alone. But the benefit of having a small campus with deep social roots is that you and your friends can fight the syndrome together. It takes just a second to tell a friend that you admire their quick-thinking or that you are happy that you see them every day. If a friend is feeling down about a class or an internship, take it as an opportunity to gas them up! Spreading love is not a waste of time and it helps your friends see through their own circular thoughts that may be holding them back.

And to all the supposed “imposters”: take a breath. Eighth week is over and you can make it to the end. You are strong and brave and deserve every good thing that has come your way and will come your way in the future. What you want, what you dream about, is always accomplishable. So do not stand in the way by telling yourself that you can’t.