If you’re a student or you used to be a student, have you ever came across the moment that why everyone in the lecture hall seems to understand what the lecturer is talking about, but you have no idea about the concept?
Today, We’ll look into this exciting topic, the Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a constant feeling that you THINK you’re not good enough to perform your duty or job while other people surround you seem to perform better.
For example, as a software engineering student, I always fall into this imposter syndrome when my friends talk about the technologies or algorithms which I never heard before. In contrast, other friends seem to have an idea of what the technologies are about.
This kind of circumstance makes me anxious and worried about my ability to understand new concepts. I’ll start to doubt, am I born to be so dumb or slow in processing new knowledge?
The good news(bittersweet news) is that Imposter syndrome is quite popular as research found that about 70% of people will have this imposter feeling at some point in their lives. The syndrome lives in people’s minds regardless of their race, gender, age, and occupation.
The study of the imposter syndrome started when the psychologist Dr. Pauline R. Clance, noticed her undergraduate patients didn’t believe they deserve the spot in the university even though they have a high grade. Some of them even thought that their acceptance into university was a system error.
She started the study with her colleague Dr. Suzanne A. Imes., investigate this feeling of fraudulence within female college or faculty. Since then, more research has been established across gender, occupation, or age.
Then where does this sense of insecurity come from?
One possible cause of imposter syndrome is that children, especially children in eastern countries, tend to judge by the surrounding people based on their academic results or not-academic achievement. Their parents tend to compare them with other children who seem better at the surface. “Why Ah Ming’s child can sit properly, but you always walk here and there?” or “Why Faris having a higher rank than you? Suck.”
As time goes by, these sentences slightly and continuously build up our thought that we are worse than our colleagues or friends.
At the same time, we also started to build up our way of thinking about the world. So we are always aware of our fear, anxiety, and idiocies. Fearing that we are different from people surrounding us, we afraid to expose who we are. This tendency worsens the imposter syndrome.
Yes, we know ourselves from inside, how dull, anxious, stupid we are. In contrast, we only know people from the outside. What we know of others is what they happen to do, tell us, or post on their social media, which is polished and edited information.
How to overcome it
With this in mind, how are we going to overcome this imposter feeling? The answer is to believe that others’ minds work the same way as ours. Everyone must be as anxious, uncertain, and worrying as we are. In the 16th century, philosopher Montaigne once playfully informed his readers that: “Kings and philosophers shit, so do ladies!” What Montaigne wants to convey is that we might not ever imagine these powerful and grand people ever had to squat on a toilet.
To update this example, we may refer these people to CEOs, lawyers, or successful writers. Breaking this stereotype is the most important step to help us get out of this imposter feeling.
The most efficient and successful people are always having a short time frame to get out of this negative thought. We have some tips for you to pull yourselves out of this feeling.
Admit that everyone has the same way of thinking as ours
One of the sources of imposter syndrome is we keep comparing our whole life with others’ Facebook life. The current advanced social networks make sharing information a breeze. We often see others sharing their new accomplishment, a new car, or a new certificate but rarely see their difficulties, low time in their life. The truth is, everyone has a hard time, but everyone chooses not to disclose it.
Adopt the growth mindset
People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is not fixed, indeed, it’s positively proportional to effort. Equip ourselves with this growth mindset can help combat the imposter feeling because we know we can be experts like others when we put in efforts.
Acknowledge your effort and achievements
Record or write down any milestone you have made. You can write a diary or if you prefer, you can download the goal-tracking app, for example, Todoist to track your completed tasks. When you fall into the imposter feeling again, check back the completed goals. You’ll know how many tasks you have done or how hard the situation was in the past, and finally, you overcome it. Now you have come to this point in life or this position because of the previous hard work.
Discuss with others about your feeling can help too! Be it your close friend, family member, or mental health consultant. You’ll know people suffer the same feeling as you. This will, more or less, lessen your burden and make you less depressed.
Imposter Syndrome is Not a Disease
Most of us are the same, we are the same fragile baby when we were born. Only due to the difference in the environment, the people we met, or the incident we bump into made us who we are today. As we turn into adults(probable before adulthood), we face obstacles, we doubt if we can perform our allocated task well. Our current way of thinking really depends on our past experience, this indirectly telling us that our mind can be engineered based on the input from the outside environment.
So don’t let the imposter syndrome stop us from success.
We hope this post helps you clarify the imposter syndrome feeling during your life as a university student(if any). Good luck!
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