Imposter Syndrome. “A psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments,” (Dalla-Camina, 2018). I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt more out of place this past year then I’ve ever felt in my entire life. More times than I could count, I felt inferior to those around me, wondering how I got the opportunities that I received. It never mattered that I actually worked for what I got or no matter what my parents, siblings, or friends said, I still felt that it wasn’t mine to have. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly grateful for every little amazing that I was blessed to experience, but that doesn’t change anything. Did I really deserve it? Was I meant to be there? And most importantly, if I did deserve it, why did I feel this way?
I’m not going to say high school was a breeze because it definitely wasn’t considering the high school I went to. But, that’s when you learn how to finesse. I won’t get into the art of that because a magician must never reveal their secrets… Anyways, I know for a fact that my high school teachers actually gave a damn about me and wanted to see me succeed. Yeah, most classes had their challenges, but I didn’t almost flat out give up until I took AP Statistics. I think that throughout those four years, I had never felt so stupid in a class, it was actually crazy. And it probably didn’t help that people loved to put me on their little pedestals as an example of the perfect student.
“Ms. 4.1 always getting straight A’s, never have to worry about a damn thing,” “Turn around we already know you got an A,” (I wasn’t even going to say anything), “You failed? OMG I did better than you??” Mind you, these are pretty direct quotes that I can remember. This didn’t boost my confidence, it just made me hate those around me who always seemed to have a comment about one of my failures leading me to hate myself for failing in the first place. SMH. And people wonder why I’m a perfectionist….but enough background.
Fast forward to Summer Bridge of the Millennium Scholars Program. My parents always told me I’m a pretty smart cookie, so you know, of course I believed them. Let’s just say, most of that long six and a half weeks of torture, I had never felt more “unwelcome.” And I use quotes around it, not because people weren’t nice to me, but because the thoughts in my head lead me to believe that I did not belong in the same cohort of these really smart individuals. And even now, looking back, it still fathoms me how dumb I truly thought I was.
I struggled everyday with not only trying to make friends in such a stress induced environment, but also dealing with the demands placed on us while trying to look like I understood what was going on in the classes that they gave us. And I’ll save you the trouble of asking, “are you sure you’re not exaggerating?” Tell that to my many panic attacks throughout the summer. And the worst part about having panic attacks, is the damn trigger.
This summer at my research program (i3), I had three panic attacks because it in some way reminded me of summer bridge the year before. But, my wonderful, amazing, absolute purest human being of a director sat down and talked to me. I’m obviously not going to repeat everything she said, but she made me feel a whole lot better about the panic attacks by talking about them and why they happened, as well as why I was in the program in the first place because, as usual, I was questioning how the hell I got this opportunity. Despite that hiccup, the rest of the program went beautifully and I learned so many new things and made so many more new friends.
I think going into this fall, the school year will, of course, not be easy. I have a lot of responsibilities to uphold including leadership positions, a research project, a research lab, homework, exams, clubs, and building friendships. I’m trying to start seeing the bad within the good and the best thing about having this problem is when the good parts do come, I can look back on them in the bad and remind myself that I do belong and there is a reason why I’m there.
One of my goals for the semester is finding where I truly belong. What interests me and what I absolutely hate. Where I want to go in life and accomplishments I want to have. Freshman year was just the start. Sometimes, I feel that in order for me to get anywhere in life or become who I want to be, I have to be broken down first and be rebuilt. Well, I’m hoping it’s time to move on to building who I am because my sophomore year is the best time to do it.