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What is Imposter Syndrome and How to Deal With it

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

College seniors tap in. Do you ever feel like when you’re applying to jobs, going for interviews or crafting a resume, you’re playing the role of a fictional character? Like there’s no possible way you belong in the ‘real world’ running alongside the ‘big dogs’? Me too. This is why: imposter syndrome. 

What is Imposter Syndrome?

That feeling like you don’t belong or you’re not good enough, even though you’re well qualified, is a phenomenon occurring in young adults around the globe known as imposter syndrome. This phenomenon is the psychological occurrence of feeling like you’re not good enough despite your achievements and high-quality performance. 

The reality of dealing with imposter syndrome is difficult to see through. Still, it’s important to recognize that what you’re feeling is normal—according to the American Psychological Association, 82% of people struggle with feelings of imposter syndrome. You’re not alone. 

Strategies to Overcome Imposter Syndrome 

While valid, your feelings of self-doubt and criticism can become damaging and counterproductive, bleeding into your personal life and mental health. So, here are a few things to remember when you feel yourself slipping into imposter mode. 

  • Talk to someone: The American Psychological Association recommends that you don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor about your imposter syndrome. They can help you put things into perspective and provide you with valuable feedback.
  • Focus on your accomplishments: For me, making a list of your accomplishments, big and small, have helped me combat my self-doubt. Doing so will help you realize that you have achieved a lot and that you deserve to be where you are.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others: Professionals at Clevland Clinic say, “focus on measuring your own achievements instead of holding them up against others.” It’s easy to compare yourself to your peers, but this only fuels imposter syndrome. Remember that everyone has their own journey, and you should focus on your own path.
  • Embrace failure: “Embracing failure is often the critical first step on the road to success” (Western Govoner University). Failure is a natural part of life, and it’s how we learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t let it define you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Own your accomplishments: The NewYork Times recently reported women tend to explain their success as “luck,” whereas men report confidence in their innate accomplishments. Prohibit yourself from downplaying the accomplishments you’ve had and celebrate the accomplishments you have been able to achieve.

Most importantly, it’s good to keep in mind that imposter syndrome can be a good thing. It’s often a sign that you’re pushing yourself outside of your comfort zones. Every good student has feelings of self-doubt or criticism. Academic stress is a real thing and affects everyone differently. If you’re a college student, this reality is probably very troubling and very scary. But you wouldn’t be where you’re right now without the work and dedication you took to get here. 

Julia Schweitzer

Illinois State '23

Julia is a senior at Illinois State University pursuing a BA in English Publishing. When she's not studying, you can find her reading her favorite romance novels, practicing yoga, or grabbing a coffee on campus.