opinion   |   column

COLUMN: Impostor Syndrome: noble humility or shameful insecurity?



It’s no secret that 
scholastic life is 
overwhelming.

From the first day of college, we are inundated by the daunting knowledge and 
opportunities of the world.

We realize there’s so much to explore and learn. The things we know about the world might be wrong, and the things we’re proud of might seem trivial, irrelevant or unimportant in the face of the amazing things others have done.

Despite our hard work, we still feel as though we’re not what everyone thinks we are. We ask ourselves, “How did I get here?”

Impostor Syndrome causes the inability to internalize our achievements and successes. We feel that we are hiding an “intellectual phoniness” under a mask or facade.

The phenomena arises as we progress through our careers. And, unfortunately, it can inhibit the intellectual growth necessary to 
overcome challenges.

An enemy to inquisitiveness and curiosity, Impostor Syndrome is not a disorder of any kind and should not be seen as something to be ashamed of.

In fact, some might say if you feel humbled and stunned by the world around you, then it’s a sign you should embrace what you don’t know. This might mean that in order to improve, you should get to the point where you have the possibility of being wrong or failing and then push yourself from there.

But just remember Impostor Syndrome is only a manifestation of your everyday fears and worries, not something that should be taken seriously as a threat to your intellect.

This way, you can celebrate your merits you’ve obtained throughout your intellectual challenges while remaining steadfast in the face of those worries.

Maybe we should stop worrying about whether or not factors outside our control have shaped our success. The position of the path you’re on doesn’t determine how successful you are. What you give to the world does.

And at the end of the day, we don’t really know how lucky we are — we should always remain grateful. That’s the type of modesty and appreciation that should 
promote humanism and 
virtues.

After all, even Sir Isaac Newton strongly emphasized how his work was only possible by the incredible determination of those who came before him when he wrote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders (sic) of giants.”

We need to devote time and effort to realize our worth from the things we do, appreciate the good in others and recognize our own feelings about Impostor Syndrome are completely natural.

We should understand that our negative emotions are irrelevant to whatever success we have achieved, and our experience of working hard is much more meaningful than any destructive feeling.

Writing, discussion, therapy, reading or other forms of communication might help.

Doing things that are constructive or creative, such as building, gardening, drawing or even recreational sports, might help us re-affirm our aspects. Most importantly, we should express ourselves.

Maybe it’s comforting for us to know we’re not alone. Most of us have feelings that we’re not what others say we are.

Everyone might feel like they’re putting up a charade and hiding behind imagined success. It’s important for us to share those feelings and understand them so we can make the best of our lives.

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

More in Opinion



Comments powered by Disqus