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Imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a fraud. You feel as if, at any moment, people will find out that you are a phony and that you don’t belong. It can affect any person of any social status, gender, level of education, or skill level. Someone who struggles with these feelings attributes their success to external factors or mere luck, which can lead to self-doubt, overachieving, and self-sabotage. This can be a real source of anxiety that can be very detrimental to an individual.  

It is important to note how common this experience is. It is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this phenomenon in their lives. I, myself, have definitely experienced this. A few weeks ago, I went to an accepted students day for medical school and I felt totally out of my league. I was self-conscious about the way I looked, if I was coming across as unintelligent, and how I was speaking. I thought at any moment, students and faculty would realize how unqualified I am and revoke my acceptance. 

These are lies that our minds trick us into believing. For me, it has been comforting to confront these feelings head on. Once you accept them, you can begin to move past them. It can be helpful to question the rationality of these thoughts. Be honest with yourself. Think about your strengths as well as your limitations. I think when you do, you will find that you are far more capable than you had given yourself credit for. Additionally, avoid the comparison trap. You are never going to be the smartest, most talented, most athletic, or most attractive in the room, but you do have a perspective that makes you “you” and that should be celebrated. You have something to offer than no one else in the world does, which makes you so far from being a fraud. So own that. 

Feeling this way is such a common experience, and I would bet that whatever room you’re sitting in and feeling this way, there is at least one other person who feels the exact same way about themselves. Imposter syndrome is normal. Success doesn’t require perfection. True perfection all the time on every single thing you do is impossible so failing to achieve doesn’t make you a fraud. It makes you human. The fact that you put yourself out there is an achievement in itself.

Hadley Hudson is a senior Psychology major and Medicine, Health and Culture minor at Furman University. She hopes to attend medical school after college. In addition to writing for HerCampus, she is involved in Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Epsilon Delta, and Women's Club Soccer. She spends her free time reading, hanging with friends, and eating good food!
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