Impostor Syndrome is not a new experience, especially in competitive environments like university, the pursuit of knowledge, and the prospect of a bright future. It is more than just simply being realistic and humble, the syndrome manifests as persistent self-doubt and can often put a huge downer on academic and career triumphs.
Why do I feel this way?
Comparisons: The academic world provides many occasions where students are assessed and furthermore ranked, leading individuals to make comparisons between their peers, even in unconscious ways.
Your friend just got back their grades from the exams you shared and they performed well. This constant comparison often results in a distorted perception of our personal achievements, their successes become our own inadequacies. More importantly, they most likely received that grade and said, “I don’t even know how I did that!”.
High Standards: Universities and their reputations are, by nature, high standard environments. You may feel pressured to live up to this standard because it is intrinsically linked to your position as a student in attendance and your self-perception. In healthy doses, this can provide motivation, but too much expectation causes faltering self-confidence, internalization of failures, and to over focus on the mistakes.
Fear of Failure: The fear of failure stems from lack of confidence in our ability, preventing future risk taking like the pursuit of a placement year or other opportunities to make youself stand out when you graduate.The dread of making mistakes and the inability to take ownership of success can contribute significantly to the development of Impostor Syndrome.
How do I overcome this?
Acknowledge Your Achievements: When it’s your turn performing exceptionally in your assignment, don’t use the creative expression, “I don’t even know how I did that!”. Spend time reflecting on your accomplishments and the methods you put in place to reach your success. Consider yourself deserving of it and utilise it as proof of your ability to pursue goals in the future.
Speak Out: Find a mentor, someone who has achieved the success you aspire to. Let them reassure you that your actions and work are leading you to the right place, and help you make a plan. Speak with people who have made mistakes that they can now look back on to help you gain perspective; after all, a setback need not be the end of the world and can sometimes lead to even better things. You can find a suitable mentor with our mentorship platform, Graduate Mentor, and book in a free session. Also talk to friends, who are pursuing entirely different careers from you so that there are no comparisons made and you can both work through this mentality together.
Set Realistic Goals:Balance your time like a pro. Divide more ambitious objectives into smaller, more doable tasks. Honour every tiny victory and keep in mind that everyone develops at a different rate.
Cultivate a Growth Mindset: Accept the notion that skills can be improved with commitment and effort. A growth mindset encourages continuous learning and resilience in the face of challenges. It is worth attempting something and not getting it right initially, then to never try at all. This thinking can be applied to many areas off life and contributes to a great innovative mindset for a work environment.
The most essential key to remember is that you are not alone in facing Imposter Syndrome. As a university student or graduate, you are part of a community that shares similar struggles and triumphs. By acknowledging and addressing Impostor Syndrome, you can start to deconstruct the false beliefs and free yourself from the narrative of self-doubt. You can also talk to others and discover that they might be experiencing similar feelings, and you can even use our mentor service to gain perspective. Remember, your achievements are valid, and you deserve to thrive in the opportunities that come your way.