Have you ever sat in class and just blankly stare at all the material on the board? You’re totally lost, and you look around to see if others have the same confused looks on their faces. You keep reading faces, checking how high eyebrows are raised, understanding body language of the people around you, and so on and so forth. But, finally, you come to the conclusion that the brilliant minds around you know what’s going on, and you, my friend, are the only one who is truly lost.
Wait, wait, wait, stop. What you just related to above is known as the imposter syndrome. This syndrome is not uncommon in elite college campuses or top tier schools. In fact, Dean Hutchinson brought it up to my UNIV 110 class, and it gave me a new perspective. Imposter syndrome is defined as the “concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’” (Thank you, Wikipedia). It’s a constant fear of exposure, or it’s a constant apprehension of affirmation of misrepresentation.
But, here’s the thing. I believe that Rice students wear masks. There’s vulnerability in talking openly about one’s weaknesses or struggles, so it’s shut down, hidden inside, or suppressed beneath everything else. He doesn't talk about the low grade he received on the midterm last week and tells his friend he did “okay.” She doesn’t show her anxiety by covering it up with a constant smile and the status of “being too busy.” But, life goes on. The sun rises, and then it sets; the whole routine starts over. Little excitements over getting out of lab early or getting an extension on a paper. The dread, however, or the fear of appearing weak or inept still remain over time.
So, why do we do this? I won’t lie to you; I’ve done it. A friend asked me how my math test went, and I told her that it went great. In reality, I’m scared because I have no idea if my performance of the test was even close to others’. We all wear masks and pretend that we are coasting through the university life. Here’s the thing, though. Don’t you get tired of it? Don’t you wish you could sit and have a real conversation with a friend? So, let’s do it. We’ve all been chosen by this university because someone saw potential, spirit, and passion. Granted I’ve only been here for about six months; I can say that Rice contains a sense of competition, but the people here support each other. So, open up to your friends. Take the mask off because it’s time to show the world that the real you has learned to fall down and has the power to overcome the fall and get back up.I’ll leave y’all with this lasting note: don’t be #fake.