Feel Like an Imposter? Don't Worry, You’re Not Alone.

My Journey

Have you ever felt like in whichever setting or place you’re in, you do not belong? Like those around you will somehow one day discover you’re an imposter who does not deserve any of the accomplishments you have achieved? If so, I am here to tell you that you’re not alone.

Having grown up in the South to immigrant parents from Mexico, I was never able to receive the guidance and mentorship I needed throughout my educational experience. As a result, my experience was filled with the pursuit of self-discovery all while also trying to navigate things like learning to read and write in English to going through the college application process.

Throughout my educational experience, I always felt as if there was a need for me to go above and beyond in order to be at the same academic level as my classmates. However, even when doing so and being rewarded for it, I felt as if my efforts were only recognized for the pure sake of being the only Latinx student in my classes.

This feeling continued into college where I often heard things like “you only got in because you’re Hispanic” and as much as I hate to say it, it got to me. I had (and continue to) struggle participating in class given the fear of saying something incorrect even when part of me knows that I’m not. However, if there is one thing college has taught me is that neither I nor you are alone. This cruel and hard to combat feeling is nothing other than the imposter syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome? What does that look like?

The imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon referring to a pattern of behavior in which individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a consistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as an imposter. Often people with imposter syndrome attribute luck or good timing to the accomplishments they have achieved. Not only that, but they often dismiss others who believe that they are more intelligent and competent than they actually are. Essentially, they remain convinced that they are not capable and do not deserve the success or position they are in. Now, with this, let’s take a look at some common signs of imposter syndrome which include:

  • Self-Doubt
  • Fear of being discovered
  • Attributing own success to external factors
  • Constant fear of not living up to expectations
  • Negative self-talk
  • Overachieving
  • Constant comparison to other people
  • Setting challenging goals and feeling disappointed when falling short
  • Irrational fears of the future

Now that I know what it is, How can I combat it?

It is without a doubt that learning to overcome imposter syndrome can be challenging. However, here are some small steps you can take to combat it:

  • Recognize imposter feelings when they emerge
  • Remember that success is subjective
  • Take ownership of your success
  • Refrain failure as a learning opportunity
  • Accept that perfectionism is impossible
  • Set boundaries away from systems or individuals who do not contribute to your personal wellness and growth
  • Have consistent self-care check-ins where you are kind to yourself

Here's what you can do to support those with Imposter Syndrome:

As someone who has been battling this syndrome for years now, I have recognized the importance of having a strong support system around me. Sharing feelings with trusted loved ones such as your parents and teachers, who have more experience, can reassure you that you’re worthy and capable of anything. Don’t let the fear of others finding out you’re a “fraud” get in the way of you seeking help. Let your guard down and let others who you trust see the real you. It is important that you recognize the symptoms of imposter syndrome amongst others. Listen to them whenever they are ready to open up but most importantly, reassure them that you’re proud and that you know they are capable of achieving all of their dreams.

A Message from ME to YOU

Remember that if you are ever feeling like an imposter, it means that you have achieved some form of success in your life that you’re simply neglecting. Instead, turn that feeling into gratitude and look at all that you have accomplished in life. Most individuals experience moments of doubt, and that is normal. However, we must not let that doubt control our actions. It is okay to have an imposter moment, but not an imposter life.