There is a secret that many students carry with them, hidden beneath the facade of confidence and achievement. It is a feeling that lurks in the shadows of every lecture room, library, and dorm — a feeling of not belonging, of being an imposter in the academic world. This secret is known as “imposter syndrome,” and it is a phenomenon that haunts the minds of people across the globe.
As students, we often wear masks— not just physical COVID-19 masks, but masks of competence, success and certainty. These masks shield us from the vulnerability of admitting that we do not have all the answers, that we sometimes struggle and that we fear being exposed as frauds. We assume the guise of the studious classmate who diligently completes every reading assignment, appearing composed, even though a two-hour nap was our saving grace just moments before class. We hide behind the mask of the accomplished scholar, afraid to admit that we occasionally grapple with self-doubt.
Imposter syndrome whispers in our ear that we must be flawless to succeed. It established unattainable benchmarks for us, leading us to believe that straying from the conventional path to success will lead to failure. In our quest for flawlessness, we overlook that our imperfections define our humanity.
Behind the scenes, we wrestle with hidden struggles: the gloomy late-night doubts, the apprehension of falling short of one’s family expectations, and the constant comparison to our peers. “Have I involved myself in enough extracurriculars? Does my resume stand out? Is my GPA good enough?” We bury our insecurities beneath layers of academic achievements, hoping that we will have it all figured out one day. Spoiler alert: we never will.
As our academic journey continues, we realize that imposter syndrome is a shapeshifter that thrives on our insecurities. Simultaneously, we discover that we can unmask this imposter to confront it head-on. We find strength in vulnerability, knowing that it is okay to ask for help, to admit when we do not know the answers, and to embrace our imperfections.
Your authenticity shines brighter than any mask you could ever wear.