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Wellness > Mental Health

My Experience with Imposter Syndrome

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

I have recently felt ridiculously lucky and happy with many aspects of my life. I have amazing friends, supportive parents, a boyfriend who treats me so well, multiple ways to grow professionally, opportunities to travel and a constantly growing accomplishments list. 

So why can’t I accept it all and be proud of myself for it, all of the time? 

There are days when I am overwhelmingly grateful for each of these things in my life and other days when I feel like I don’t deserve a single one of them. 

On bad days, I question whether I deserve to hold the leadership positions that I do. I feel undeserving of the love that people in my life show me. I doubt that I am professionally prepared for a post-grad job. 

All of this can be boiled down to one thing: imposter syndrome. As defined by VeryWellMind, “Imposter syndrome is an internal, psychological experience in which one believes that they are not as competent as others perceive them to be, as if they are a fraud… [or] the experience of feeling like a phony in some area of your life, despite any success that you have achieved in that area.”

In my academic/professional life, this translates as constantly feeling like I could be doing more no matter how much I am already succeeding. I compare myself to others who I believe have done better. Doing both of these things causes me to doubt myself and have a hard time talking about my strengths. 

In my personal life, I have trouble believing and accepting the compliments my friends and family give me. I also don’t feel like I deserve a healthy relationship with my boyfriend who supports and loves me. 

These implications of imposter syndrome in my life haven’t always been prevalent. I started feeling them in March 2021, but they got more severe by March 2022 and are now probably at their worst. 

I wish I could be as proud of myself as other people are of me.  

I wish I had an overall tip to get rid of this feeling, but I don’t. Recently though, I have been working on doubting myself less and convincing myself that I do deserve all that I have and all that I have worked for so far in my life. 

I do this by really listening to the compliments and statements of reassurance I am given by others and trying to internalize them. If other people think these positive things about me, I should think them about myself too. 

I have also been using and repeating this specific mantra over and over to myself because I know that I should believe it. Some day soon, I will.  

I know I am exactly where I need to be in my life, and I am not granted these blessings out of chance. At the end of the day, I need to remind myself that I am deserving, capable and successful.

Marlena is a fourth-year in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State where she is majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Psychology and Digital Media Trends & Analytics. She is so grateful to be at Penn State and loves learning more about communications, her peers, and herself every day. She hopes to use this knowledge and her own positive outlook to help others in any way she can.