Dealing with Imposter Syndrome
All my life, I have never felt like I fully embraced my achievements. Being a “gifted kid” from the start has always made me feel like what I did had to be the absolute best compared to other students in my grade; at least, that’s what my classes made me feel. Growing up in advanced or honors classes comes with comparing yourself to everyone else and constantly competing to see who will swim and who will sink. It has been super stressful and there have definitely been days where I felt like I couldn't keep up with everything going on.
The problem with this constant comparison is that it makes you start to develop something called “imposter syndrome”, which Wikipedia defines as “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’”. In simpler terms, imposter syndrome is when you feel like you don't fit in with everyone else because you don't feel worthy enough to be where or who you are.
I can speak from personal experiences of being in high classes and not feeling “as smart” as the kid sitting next to me and wondering if I even deserve to be taking that class. Currently, as a high school student, I recognize that imposter syndrome is very apparent in my age group, especially since we are all taking different classes, at different levels, at different times. During a time where everyone is trying to figure out their own path, there is no doubt that comparing your status to someone else is a part of that.
Having imposter syndrome comes with so much, and it can definitely be overwhelming no matter what your situation is or how old you are. First of all, what can it look like? From my understanding, it looks like:
Constantly punishing yourself for making little mistakes
Sabotaging your own success
Undermining your achievements
Feeling like a failure when you’re not working at your highest potential
Thoughts of depression and anxiety
Imposter syndrome can be detrimental to your mental health. For my peers who also feel like a “fraud”, know that you are not alone. These teenage years hold a lot of doubt, regret, and figuring things out, especially now in the age of social media and comparing yourself. It is so easy to feel like you are worthless with imposter syndrome. If you feel that way, remember that you matter and that your accomplishments, big or small, are worth celebrating. Check out this helpline if you need more support or guidance.
It’s difficult to prove your worth to yourself, but realizing that everyone is doing their own thing (at their own pace) is essential to getting over imposter syndrome. Evaluating yourself realistically can also be hard, but taking the time to appreciate your efforts can make it more of a positive self-assessment. Work on your self-esteem and take pride in how far you have already gotten, even if that required some help from the people around you. After all, no one else can do it like you!