Imposter Syndrome Has A Common Occurrence In College Students And It's Time To Address It
Start writing a post
Student Life

Imposter Syndrome Has A Common Occurrence In College Students And It's Time To Address It

How to deal with Imposter Syndrome, insecurity, and fear of the future.

Imposter Syndrome Has A Common Occurrence In College Students And It's Time To Address It
Personal Photo

As I have spoken to people this semester, I have noticed a recurring theme in the conversation: stress, fear, and an uncertainty regarding the future. People are second guessing their majors, their futures, and doubting their abilities - including me. I have found myself wondering how I have reached the achievements I have, and gained the experiences I have, when I feel so incompetent. As I did research, and spoke with others, I found out there was a specific term to explain this: Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as:

"the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills."

As I examine my own life, I have found this tends to manifest in the constant feeling of the good things in my life are a result of a fluke or an example of luck. I got into the university through luck. I have progressed through research by faking it and fooling people into thinking I actually know what I am talking about. But the thing is, I do. I am intelligent. I did the work, and the research, and the presentations, and I gained knowledge that I didn't have before. Just because I don't know everything there is to know about my field yet does not mean I am not accomplished. It simply means I am still growing. But I need to celebrate the growth I've already undergone.

What came as a great relief was the discovery that I was not alone. Maya Angelou herself was quoted several times expressing fear that one day everyone would see through her and recognize her as the fraud that she was. She wrote her books, and spoke, and developed her own wisdom, but found she felt as if she'd been living a dream. Someone else had done these things and she was merely getting the credit for it.

This doesn't just affect the most successful though. Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone, particularly those who are undergoing rapid changes or periods of growth. It can increase anxiety levels, and impact depression. People lose sleep and experience physiological affects. Overall, there is a sense of dread and fear, and this idea that you will one day lose everything because you did not truly earn it.

However, this was not written to explain all of this and leave it there. That would be depressing and underwhelming. I must note that I am not a therapist (clearly) and I am not yet a professional, so if you feel these things often and at extreme levels, I encourage you to seek a professional's guidance, not just the well meaning but not unbiased blog-writing of a college student. There are ways to help when these feelings come temporarily, or cause just enough doubt to make you think. It will come as no surprise, but some of the best aids are helpful for those who experience anxiety and depression as well (or other mental health issues).

I have found positive affirmations to be the most helpful. As is the case with other intrusive thoughts or unhealthy habits, you must recognize it and then implement a change. I first began noticing the way I spoke to myself. If I messed up it was usual followed by a self aimed insult. If I was considering things I've done it was viewed as if through a lens, like I wasn't the one doing it. There were several forms of unhealthy and unproductive thoughts, and I began to recognize it. I then found there were many things I have done and many accomplishments I have earned, because I did the work. I had gained the knowledge and I had grown. I had been holding onto a perfectionists ideals and felt like I was behind because I was not living up to a standard set in my own head.

So what did I do? What do I continue to do? Challenge the thoughts. Every time I caught myself insulting myself, I would have to think of something positive (be it in regards to my personality, my being, or my achievements). If I found myself questioning my skill I would have to remind myself where I began, and how much progress I have in fact made.

This is not an immediate cure. I am still trying to condition myself, and it takes work and patience. However, a therapist once gave me a reminder that I still find helpful several years later. "It is about progress, not perfection." We are in school to learn. We do research because there are questions we do not have answers to. If we knew everything, we would truly have to ask "what is the point?" Instead we can continue to grow. We can continue to ask questions. It is frustrating, particularly when you have a goal in mind that seems much too far away. However, if you remember where you began, and praise yourself where praise is due, you will find it makes a small but helpful difference in the way you view yourself and your growth.

Find more information about Imposter Syndrome and how to deal with it via this Ted Talk.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Haunted Houses For Halloween In New Jersey

The Top Scariest Haunted Houses In New Jersey


Residing in New Jersey enables you to participate in various activities, and everyone has a favorite. In New Jersey, Halloween is also celebrated in a spooky way. There are many scariest haunted houses in NJ to celebrate Halloween. If you want to confront your greatest fears, Halloween Scariest haunted houses are ideal.

Keep Reading... Show less

Leaving My Backpack In The Library

Views about society and the stranger sitting right across from me


As a college student, my backpack is an extension of myself in many ways. It contains my notes, pens, and computer vital for my success in college. It contains the snacks and water bottle I need to survive long days on campus. It also contains the "in-case" items that help put my mind at rest if I forgot something from home: extra hair ties, masks, and that backup-backup snack. With so much in my backpack important to me and my life on campus, it is no wonder that I can get apprehensive about it when it is not with me or in my line of sight. And that makes me wonder.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Cool Gadgets To Make Your Car Smart

Don't let this stop you from making your car smart. You can change the one you have using smart gadgets that transform your car into a smart car.


Cars are no longer just a mode of transport, where you only worry about the engine and how beautiful its interior is. These days, everyone wants to make their cars smarter, those with advanced technology systems. It makes sense for several reasons. It can make your vehicle more efficient and safer when you need to drive.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Inevitable Truth of Loss

You're going to be okay.


As we humans face loss and grief on a daily basis, it's challenging to see the good in all the change. Here's a better perspective on how we can deal with this inevitable feeling and why it could help us grow.

Keep Reading... Show less

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Film Review

Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson lead a tigher, more fun sequel to 2018's 'Venom'

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment – YouTube

When Sony announced that Venom would be getting a stand-alone movie, outside of the Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man films, and intended to start its own separate shared universe of films, the reactions were generally not that kind. Even if Tom Hardy was going to take on the role, why would you take Venom, so intrinsically connected to Spider-Man's comic book roots, and remove all of that for cheap action spectacle?

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments