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Mental Health

Impostor Syndrome Hits Different During Senior Year — Exploring My Newfound Feelings of Inadequacy

Imposter syndrome is incredibly common among college students, and many people initially experience it when they get to college for the first time. But not me. As a senior, it was only this year that I started developing serious feelings of inadequacy, mainly because I’m about to graduate and enter the “real world.”

I may technically be an adult, but when I think about all of the knowledgeable and impressive people who will be competing for the same things as me — like jobs, internships and professional programs — I feel like a little kid. And the fact that I’m graduating a year early doesn’t help either; I’ll be younger and less experienced than pretty much every other person out there. So, why would anyone take me seriously?

My entire life up until this point has been about school. Yes, I’ve had some part-time jobs, but my main focus has always been on becoming the best student that I could possibly be. But once I leave college, I’ll need a completely different set of skills, one that I don’t think I’ve spent enough time cultivating. 

But, it’s never too late to start. I’m currently trying to combat my imposter syndrome by getting to the root of the issue. I feel inadequate right now because I don’t think that I have nearly as much practical knowledge as others, so I’m working on building that knowledge. It can be as simple as watching a YouTube tutorial on how to use Microsoft Excel or finally learning how to change a tire in my car. And while doing these things won’t totally cure my imposter syndrome, it makes me feel more capable as a person.

At the same time, I’m reminding myself of all of the knowledge and skills that I do have. I’m graduating from the number one public university in America — that’s no small feat. I have some work experience already, and I’m confident in my ability to learn more about the professional world in the future. It’s easy to focus on everything I don’t know, but reframing my mindset to recognize everything that I already know how to do helps me feel more optimistic about my ability to succeed in the real world.

If you’re in the same boat as I am, just know that you’re not alone. Imposter syndrome can strike at any time, and it’s not easy to shake off. However, if you focus on bettering yourself and try not to get bogged down in comparing yourself to others, you can accomplish things you might not have thought were possible.

Nicolette is a senior sociology major and professional writing minor at UCLA. In her free time, she loves reading fantasy novels and baking desserts for her friends and family.
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