To Feel Like An Imposter


Among Us

We’re now in May, and before we know it, June will be just around the corner. For seniors, that means accolades and final transcripts will be passed out, and in the future, we’ll be graduating. Currently, it’s all about planning our futures, and just before that, most of us were getting our acceptance letters, and looking further back, we were finishing up our applications. I expected senior year to be a moment of jovialness and evoke a self-image shrouded in grandeur, but instead, what did I feel?

Desolateness: it’s the last thing anyone wishes to plague their soul. The wretched truth, however, is that many people—if not most of us—have or will experience heavy emotions for a prolonged period of time: apprehension, grief, or despondency alike. Life throws many obstacles at us, and the one fact that we can connect with is how hard it is to navigate life and climb up the social or economic rungs. Success can bring much pride, joy, and comfort. However, a majority of people will likely feel at some point in their life that not only undermines their achievement but also threatens their sense of belonging.

Admittedly, there is some comfort and relief with all of the acceptance letters I’ve received, and the compliments I had on my transcript. At the same time though, I ended up finding myself in a pit of minor depression. I began to doubt myself. How did I get accepted to all of these places with such nice scholarships? How did I manage to achieve so much during my time in high school? Do I really deserve my GPA, all of my friends, and the great experiences that I’ve had? The sparkly prom dress I plan to wear, even? Like always, the brain begins to rationalize: you’re fake, you put up a good front to strangers, you’ve weaseled your way into everything and hit good luck. At the same time, that isn’t true at all.

Something that many people don’t know is that this sensation has a name of its own—it’s been called “imposter syndrome”. To put it in layman’s terms, imposter syndrome is when one begins to doubt their ability, and thus, they begin to doubt their accomplishments and place in life. To be clear, it is not a mental illness but reportedly, around 70% of people are affected by imposter syndrome. Perfectionists are the ones most likely to be hit by it dramatically. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that puts many of us at risk to experience this crisis.

Most professionals agree that anxiety usually paves a neat ravine for imposter syndrome to flow through, though in some cases, it not only flows but it floods. It can affect any person differently and not every person who has experienced it has an anxiety disorder. After all, anxiety is part of the human experience. It would make sense for myself to have gone through this with the disquietude of graduation, though for others, it could be from a medley of occurrences be it from grieving a friend, trauma, or unease about their work life. Ironically enough, the phenomenon that can cause one to fret so much about their authenticity can lower their performance in the classroom or at work.

So what can be done? Being able to reassure oneself that they are worthy can help. It can be hard to accomplish that on your own, so I would suggest surrounding yourself with an entourage of family and friends can help. Asking a loved one how they feel about you and what you have achieved in life can be an eye-opener, or at least plant the seed in your mind that you are, in fact, deserving of the good things your life has to offer.

High school is the final stage in life before reaching adulthood, and there’s a lot of emphasis on how every student needs to make it count. Entering college is somewhat competitive, and tuition is expensive but makes cuts for those in need with merit. This is the perfect breeding ground for unease and perfectionism, and I think that is exactly what caused my senior year despair. But I learned that I’m not alone, and that I am as capable as I appear. With that being said, I worry that many students will experience this, especially seniors or those approaching their last year themselves next year. With that, I have this to say to you, reader: you have worked hard to get to wherever you are right now. Take what I said in any way you wish, if it’s for reaching a milestone with mastering your hobby, or for your grades, or for finding your first part-time job. It doesn’t matter, but what does matter is you.