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Imposter Syndrome: Acknowledging It, Embracing It, Then Letting It Go

We all know the feeling — the one where you suddenly remember that you have to clean your whole room before even thinking about sitting down and starting that job application. The one where for a moment, cross-country “van life” sounds like the best post-grad option, because you’d rather lose access to a regular shower than have to stare at yourself on paper. It’s a special kind of procrastination. It’s not your general run-of-the-mill “I’ll do it tomorrow” kind of feeling that you have toward all of your usual homework. Instead, this procrastination is panicked, overwhelming and riddled with Imposter Syndrome. 

Last summer I was lucky enough to find work in the midst of the pandemic. An intern at my dad’s news office had fallen through and I was offered the position last minute. I got the great opportunity to work with a professional news team, conduct interviews, pitch and write stories and get published in a real paper. Of course this was all a direct result of nepotism, so I tried my absolute hardest to demonstrate that I truly belonged there. It was a valuable first professional writing experience — one that I will be forever grateful for. 

This January, it was finally time for me to sit down and start looking for work. Applications for the summer were starting to open up and I finally had some experience to show. But suddenly, reading the pieces I’d written six months prior made me uneasy. Thinking about convincing someone to hire me in a three to four paragraph letter seemed agonizing. The work that I had gained under my belt felt inadequate and disingenuous. 

Imposter Syndrome sucks because it not only stops you from recognizing your accomplishments as worthy, it tries to prevent you from seeking greater experiences, learning new skills and stepping outside of your comfort zone. It talks you out of an application mid-way through because you’ve decided that the single qualification on the multi-bulleted job description is enough to deem you insufficient. It tells you that the solution to your apprehension and reluctance is avoidance. 

What I’ve determined is that rarely can Imposter Syndrome be evaded, because most often there is some truth to the anxieties that you face. You may be one in 100 other people with identical majors and GPA, chasing the same minimum-wage three-month remote internship. You may hear from a single employer out of the 30 you applied to, only to be told that you weren’t the right fit for the job. But Imposter Syndrome only wins when you let it stop you from hitting “submit” at the bottom of the application or from trying again after rejection. Instead, acknowledge it, embrace it and then let it go. Because while you may still be one among 100 others, the only opportunities that you’ll truly never have are the ones you never ask for. 



Riis Williams

Washington '22

Riis is a third year undergraduate student in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. Her passions lie in the promotion of environmental sustainability, health equity and climate change awareness through engaging and uncomplicated journalism. When she's not writing, Riis loves to hike, do ballet and play the piano.
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