Luck or Effort: The Struggle of Never Giving Yourself Any Credit

In most of the Zoom meetings that I’ve had for UCI, whether they were for class discussions, club meetings, or other informational meetings, oftentimes some mini speech would be given about how we should be proud of ourselves and how smart and wonderful we must all be because we are attending UCI. Despite reasonably understanding that yes, this is a true accomplishment, I just can’t get myself to believe it nor give myself any credit for making it this far.

I have often heard the term “imposter syndrome” be thrown around by college students when they would come and give presentations in high school, but I only really had a better understanding of what it meant when during a seminar, we had a discussion about it. I realized that this is exactly what I have been struggling with all these years, and now even more so. All throughout high school, despite doing well, I couldn’t ever give myself any credit. I remember once having an interview for an internship where they asked me what my greatest accomplishment was and unfortunately, I struggled to come up with an answer. Funnily enough, I did get that internship, but I still couldn’t accept that I got it because of my effort.

Now as a college student, the feeling has only magnified. I often doubt how I even made it into UCI, as well as if I’m even cut out to be a biology major. What only adds on to this feeling is the constant comparisons I make between myself and other students. I’ll tell myself, “sure you did well on this exam, but there are other people who did well on this exam AND are also involved in multiple clubs and doing all these amazing things, so don’t feel too proud.” Or, I’ll think “you just got lucky that you studied that part a little more, don’t give yourself too much credit, it’s just luck. Anyone could have done well.” Although I know that all of this isn’t true, it’s one thing to think something and another to really feel and believe it. I find myself thinking of how much I am lacking and try to make up for it, while also measuring myself and where I am in life to others.

Even though I struggle with these types of thoughts and feelings now, I know that it is possible to move on from them, to learn and grow from them. It is a struggle, but by taking the time to recognize and accept even the tiny wins instead of only focusing and dwelling on the mistakes and failures will be a start. It is a challenge to change the way you perceive yourself, but it is necessary if you want to ever really grow. I still have a long way to go, but I know that I will one day confidently be able to genuinely tell myself “yes, you earned that, you did that all on your own; I’m proud of you.”