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Mental Health

Finding True Contentment by Defeating the Imposter Phenomenon

With school coming to a close soon, everyone is busy with a multitude of assignments, but we already need to start planning for the fall semester. Just recently, I had to meet with my advisor about my fall classes, and it was terrible. Not because my grades were bad, or that I was falling behind; it was the exact opposite. My advisor kept praising me for my grades and telling me to keep up the great work, but as she kept complimenting me, I just felt more and more like a fraud and undeserving of these achievements. I kept brushing the praise off in my head with excuses like: I only get good grades because I stay up late finishing my work, not because I’m actually smart. I only keep up with my assignments not because I’m organized but because if I don’t finish them I will be seen as a failure. This is a constant feeling with me. I can never actually accept validation from others, and no matter how much I achieve I just always feel like I could do better and that I am undeserving. If I do something well, it has to be due to something else and not my own innate talents and hard work. This is known as imposter syndrome, where one attributes all their success to luck or external influences. Everyone experiences this occasionally, but for some people, arguing with your brain on whether or not you’re worthy of your success is an every day challenge.


The imposter phenomenon is definitely a difficult mindset to get rid of, and making these thoughts go away definitely does not happen overnight; however, I want to give some tips on some things that do occasionally help me combat imposter syndrome.

Recognizing and Acknowledging These Thoughts

They say the first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have a problem. That also applies here. When I notice that it is becoming more difficult for me to accept praise, or I start to say that luck is what made me successful, or I start to call myself names like a fraud or a fake, I know that I’m suffering at the moment. I feel like recognizing these thoughts rather than ignoring them is the first way to overcome them.

Make Peace With the Fact That Everything Will Not Be Perfect

Perfectionism is definitely a cause of imposter syndrome. Yes, setting high standards for yourself is important in order to achieve, but if you are constantly comparing yourself to some unrealistically perfect version of yourself, you will never feel content with your achievements. It is important to realize that your efforts alone are good, but also good enough. Not everything has to be the best thing ever, and making peace with that realization will help you have a much calmer mindset.

Talk to Yourself Positively

We talk about being kind to others (which is extremely important); however, it is also important to be kind to yourself. One way to do this is to watch how you talk about yourself. We are in an age where self-deprecating talk is normal, but always speaking so negatively about yourself does affect how your perception of your abilities. Start saying or writing down  positive affirmations about yourself. Maybe go on Youtube and listen to subliminals that have affirmations in the background, or listen to a guided meditation. These things really do change how you see yourself, and if you begin to see yourself in a more positive light, you can combat the imposter phenomenon.

These were not a lot of tips, but as someone struggling currently, I felt like it was important to talk about the few things that do help me just in case anyone else is struggling as well. I hope that this could be of some help to you, and please know that the imposter syndrome is something that really does take a toll on you, so it is important to try to find some ways to ease these thoughts into a mindset that is kinder to you. 

Taylor Johnson

Agnes Scott '24

Hello! My name is Taylor. I am a freshman at Agnes Scott College. I plan on majoring in English Creative Writing and minoring in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies. In my free time, I love to read and write. I also enjoy meditating and I'm currently learning how to do oracle and tarot card readings. If you ever see me around, I'm probably taking a walk and filming my day.
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