There’s an imposter among us!

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So, the first couple weeks of uni are almost done. Within one small city, there is such a mix of emotions amongst us. Freshers: exhausted yet, hopefully, high on the idea of freedom and maybe feeling homesick. Second years: a little nervous with the increase in work and how the next years are going to go. Third years: dread for the next academic year and wishing to have a little freshers fun. One feeling that I think many of us share throughout the years, at least I do, is imposter syndrome – when you’re mind makes you feel like the smallest person there, with no clue about anything, about to be run over by all the complicated mumbo-jumbo that spiels out of students also trying to belong. People feel things differently but I’d compare it to the worry of being the soil under a tractor, as I call it, the feeling of ‘what the hell am I doing here’.

When I joined Durham I remember that first feeling of utter ‘what am I doing here’. Even though I studied hard to get into Durham, when I started my philosophy seminars I felt completely inadequate. Someone would say something incredibly intelligent, filled with names and terminology that I had never heard of that my brain couldn’t even begin to understand. I’d be left there, nodding along just thinking FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT, barely able to understand the start of the seminar. Now I wish I could go back and tell the younger me that this is completely normal, everyone feels like that!

When I joined Durham I remember that first feeling of utter ‘what am I doing here’

Whenever I think of imposter syndrome, the memory of my mum telling her experience of starting her Masters at Kings College London always comes up. She also had a similar incident, right at the start of her course. Again, to try to sound impressive enough to fit into the ‘good enough to be here’ mould, one of the other students said something so overly complicated that even the professor himself could not understand what the student was saying. Giving a good, and well-needed, lesson to the class the professor told the student to shut up and say it all over again, without all the complications! I wish I had the bravery to be able to say that in class… but I think that might be considered a little bit rude.

You may wonder why I am writing about this, in fact this is my first Editorial article as I am the NEW Indigo Editor. I never thought I’d be saying that, especially when I joined Durham, but there it is. Starting third year and leading the student magazine, again that feeling of ‘what the hell am I doing here’ is creeping up on me. Even just writing this article, My First Editorial, everything is feeling so daunting. As a Fresher I thought that feeling would go but I guess it never really does. Whenever I get a new job or a new role, I will probably feel that anxiety coming over me again.

My point is to those of you out there feeling this way, we all feel that way! Do not worry. You are not alone. You may realise when you talk to more students that your friends are also feeling that way. Even just over the few days writing this article many people naturally raised the topic of imposter syndrome with me, whether it was students or new editors. Simply talking about can it create a safe space where you realise everyone is in this together.

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