Imposter syndrome is real among college students

Illustration by Olivia McCabe

Mya Harrison, Contributing Writer

I was feeling out of touch with myself, and I knew something was up. Who would have thought it was imposter syndrome?

Last semester, I was lucky enough to land a competitive internship as a production intern for a podcast called “Writing Our Way Out.” I was ecstatic to have been selected, but during the internship, I felt crippling anxiety and self-doubt about whether I was good enough for it. This hindered my performance — I had a wonderful opportunity, but felt undeserving of it.

After reflecting on these feelings, I think I had a case of imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is an internal feeling in which one doubts their abilities in spite of their accomplishments. One feels like a fraud because they are constantly wondering how they were able to get to where they are.

In a 2019 study, it was found that 20% of college students experience imposter syndrome during their time in college, according to Brigham Young University. That’s one out of every five college students. If you have ever had these feelings, you are not alone in them.

Students who experience imposter syndrome often believe that luck has played a more important part in their success than their hard work. Personally, I’ve always had a feeling that I am not as smart as I think I am, even though I have things to show for it. I thought it was my luck coming to save me.

My imposter syndrome was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; during the initial stages of the pandemic, we were forced to shift to virtual learning on top of being quarantined at home. 

I vividly recall feeling like I had nothing going on in my life because of the routine schedule of getting up and staring at my computer for hours at a time. The sameness to my days was exhausting. I wasn’t going out. I didn’t accomplish much during that time.

When I was finally able to return to in-person learning and get back into the swing of things, I felt doubtful because of my lack of productivity during quarantine. I felt behind my peers and that it would be extremely difficult to make up for what I had lost.

After reaching out to many of my peers, I learned they felt the same way I did. Finding solidarity with others and communicating these feelings openly has reduced my imposter syndrome.

Now, as I finish up my final semester at VCU, I am starting to become more confident in myself. I have been able to put the thoughts of doubt aside and believe that I am capable of accomplishing anything I put my mind to, without feeling worthless. 

Continue to remind yourself that you are succeeding because you are putting in the work. You are striving to be the best version of yourself. You deserve to be where you are. As long as you wake up every day and try your best, that’s enough.

You are enough.

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