By: Miya Stewart
Graduating college has come with plenty of obstacles, including the typical anxiety about my future, the depression that came with my friends moving away, and the endless amount of stresses that come with adulthood (HA don’t grow up, kids). But I think the worst thing I’ve experienced so far is imposter syndrome. Ever heard of it? Neither had I.
Imposter syndrome is basically a persistent feeling of inadequacy despite evidence of success (https://hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome). In other words, no matter how hard you work in life, your brain can make you feel like you’re not good enough. Fun right? When I first read about it, I convinced myself that I could never have such a thing. “I’m not successful, how can I feel inadequate when I haven’t even been adequate yet?” I literally had imposter syndrome about imposter syndrome.
The first time I realized that imposter syndrome is VERY real and that it was affecting my life happened to be during my job search after graduation. I struggled to find work because I refused to apply to a job that I wasn’t “qualified” for, which I told myself was anything and everything.
“Why should I apply for a job at that pays a good salary? I only have one degree.”
“Why should I apply for a job in the public health field when I only have a bachelor’s in public health??”
It all seems so stupid now and I certainly wasn’t giving myself enough credit. I graduated college after coming from a city where most kids don’t even make it to college. I suffered with terrible mental health during my few years of college and managed to drag my GPA out of the grave to a whopping 3.8. Don’t get me wrong, a college degree does not determine a person’s value – but I specifically need a degree to achieve my goals and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.
To those who are experiencing imposter syndrome right now, just know that it’s all in your head. You have to rewire your brain to tell yourself that you do deserve success and that you aren’t supposed to know everything. So that new job or class that you think you’re going to fail, why not treat your initial vulnerability as a learning opportunity? Ask questions, make mistakes, and become an expert at what you do because you moved past your imposter syndrome and recognized your potential.
If you don’t? As writer and feminist, Rachel Cargle, has beautifully said, “The alternative? To freeze in the face of things that terrify me. That only fosters complacency and sadness or regret at the ways I kept myself from seeing what I was capable of.”