Uni is a stressful and anxious environment. This won’t change no matter how much stress management they offer us. University is a place where expectations are high, especially coming straight from high school. The pressure to perform is everywhere. It’s from teachers, it’s from family, and it’s from friends. Worst of all, it comes from ourselves. Most of the time we are our own worst enemies, but what if we don’t even feel like ourselves?
Do you ever feel like you’re in someone else’s life? Do you not understand how you got here and what you’re meant to be doing? Do you feel like you’re not the person everyone thinks you are? Do you not associate positive feedback and compliments with work you did? Do you put your unit results down to pure luck? I sure do. It’s a feeling that increases with the more I do and the more I get involved in uni and my study. It’s a feeling that also has a name and it’s more common than you think. I’d like to introduce you to Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome can be a range of feelings. Sometimes it’s feeling like you’re a fraud and at any moment someone is going to ask you what you’re doing here. Sometimes it’s feeling like the compliments you get can’t be about your work. Sometimes it’s feeling like you’re not as talented as people think or say you are. It’s something that creeps into your life and affects your work, study and social life. More often than not it’s associated with other mental health conditions. It’s a real condition and unfortunately there is no “cure” as such. The best you can hope for is the advice of a health professional in managing the worst point of your condition including self-esteem and confidence and any co-existing conditions.
The most important thing to remember is that every now and then you will feel out of your depth and like you don’t belong. If you’re a fresher and you’ve just started uni, you may feel like that right now. That’s completely normal. You’ve been thrown into a completely new environment and in time you’ll become more comfortable. The most annoying part of Imposter Syndrome is that you’re not just a fish out of water. You feel like a fish in the jungle that is expected to climb trees. But you’re definitely not alone.
If you feel like you may qualify as an ‘imposter’ like me, you can take an indicative quiz here: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/04/do-you-have-severe-impostor-syndrome.html . Please remember the science isn’t exact and you should always seek the advice of a qualified health professional in diagnosis and treatment of your health. If you’re feeling like an ‘imposter’ or feeling out of your depth after O’ Week, you can watch some inspirational videos from people who can relate here: https://www.ted.com/playlists/503/fighting_impostor_syndrome.