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Imposter Syndrome During Finals: Breaking Through the Block

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I can confidently say that no college student enjoys finals season. If there is one thing all of UMass Amherst can agree on, it’s that spending the last few days of beautiful weather on campus inside studying is painful.

The part about finals season that always hits me hardest is the feeling that I’m not doing enough. I could spend hours in the library editing my papers or studying for exams, but it doesn’t matter. For every moment I spend studying, I spend two more telling myself how I will fail all of my exams and that I’m not cut out for college.

It feels like I’m the only one who feels this way.

But this feeling of not doing or being enough is incredibly common. Surrounding yourself 24/7 with books and work makes it difficult to stop and truly understand what you’re doing.

When you’re in the middle of a crunch, you can’t see the big picture.  

What are the alternatives though? If I don’t work hard enough I won’t pass my finals. If I tank my finals I lose my GPA, and next semester will be even harder. It’s a constant circle of pressure feeling like every misstep will ruin your life. 

At the end of the day, I try to remember that it’s just finals. They are horrible and painful, making it so nobody wants to do them. However, there will always be more tests. Papers don’t end just because you finish your current classes. Destroying your mental and physical health is not the right choice to be successful in the long term.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you “101 Ways to Ace your Exams” or “Which Study Methods Work the Best.” Those are all personal decisions and ways for you to approach the topic. I will say, however, don’t forget the basics. Eat, sleep, shower. When you’re head down in the library feeling like you’re the only person who is struggling, look around you and see all the other people there too. 

Everyone struggles at times. Some people are just better at faking it.

When you feel like you’re not good enough, take a break. Talk to your friends or family and realize this is not forever. Just because you are struggling now does not mean it’s forever, or that you won’t get it soon.

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And if finals don’t go your way? Breathe. Remember that summer is coming and you can always do better in the future. A single mistake on an exam does not define you. Don’t base your self-worth on your grades.

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Elizabeth began writing for HerCampus in Spring 2021 and is currently a Sophomore Political Science major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Outside of HerCampus, Elizabeth is a member of the Delta Mu Chapter of Alpha Chi Omega and an intern with MASSPIRG. She is interested in foreign policy and the world at large.