It’s the beginning of the school year, and you’re starting or returning to the nation’s number one public university. There are so many accolades and achievements tied to UCLA, and all around you, there are brilliant people accomplishing brilliant things. All of this sounds inspiring, right? Except among the academics and athletes and influencers, you feel like you don’t belong. You feel mediocre, subpar at best, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone in feeling this way. You probably have imposter syndrome.
According to the mental health resource Verywell Mind, imposter syndrome is “an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be, as if you are a fraud.” It’s a term that was first coined in the 1970s by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance. Merriam-Webster goes further to say that imposter syndrome causes you to feel like a fraud despite evidence of achievement. While imposter syndrome isn’t a mental illness, it’s something hard to shake off and at times defies logic.
But don’t fret. There are ways to cope with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can come and go, and there will be different levels of severity depending on the person, but here are some tips to help.
Celebrate your achievements.
Whether they’re big or small, it’s important to celebrate your achievements. Aced a midterm? Treat yourself to a nice meal. Landed that job? Go on a shopping spree. Even if it’s not a huge accomplishment, you can celebrate things like just making it through the quarter. It’s not about being materialistic. It’s about reminding yourself that you deserve to celebrate yourself. Any effort you’re making to better yourself and work towards your academic or career goals is commendable.
Learn to properly respond to failure.
Imposter syndrome can come when you find that you didn’t perform as well as you expected. Remember that failure is normal and happens to everyone. Don’t let your response be about pleasing someone else. Instead, use the experience as a way to improve yourself.
Remember that you don’t have to be good at something from the start.
A lot of us may have grown up gifted or naturally talented at things, and we may be used to picking things up with ease. If you find yourself struggling from the start, remember that this doesn’t have anything to do with your worth. There’s nothing wrong with needing to work on something. Persistence will serve you well more than talent ever will.
College is tough, and there will be so many people around you who seem extraordinary. Don’t forget you are extraordinary too. After all, you ended up here alongside the rest of us.