Imposter syndrome impacts college students’ mental health

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Talking to someone can help overcome imposter syndrome.

Tania Ortiz, Opinion Editor

The feeling like you don’t belong or feeling like a fake is not a great feeling. Imposter syndrome impacts many college students and how they view themselves, sometimes without even realizing it affects them.

If you think you’ve had (or have) imposter syndrome, you might have doubted yourself, overridden compliments of your work or told yourself that you could have done better, or you may have felt like someone that isn’t you.

One of the main reasons one can suffer from imposter syndrome is feeling as if you are not good enough, whether in an academic or professional environment. You may not even think about it being imposter syndrome until you talk about it.

Although imposter syndrome is not an official diagnosis, the American Psychological Association acknowledges that it is “a very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt.” These feelings are often accompanied by anxiety and depression.

Also, most people who suffer from imposter syndrome often deal with it in silence, mainly because they do not feel comfortable talking about it. Or sometimes people aren’t even aware, much like in my experience.

I had no idea I struggled with imposter syndrome until a few years ago. Starting in my high school years, I would sit in honor classes and feel like I didn’t deserve to have a seat. Fast forward to my early college days; I would think and feel the same way about myself. Imposter syndrome decreased the amount of confidence I had in myself.

Struggling with imposter syndrome damages people’s mental health, especially college students trying to figure out their lives. Most of the time, imposter syndrome discourages people from seizing opportunities because they discredit their work.

This feeling is amplified for students of color and first-generation students; because of their status, they feel like they don’t belong in the institutions and classes they are enrolled in. Considering the stereotypes that question these groups’ intellectual incompetence, these individuals may feel the pressure to represent their group, which adds to the imposter feelings. They also feel the added pressure to “fit into” the academic environment they are in and feel like their experiences are not valuable. 

Overcoming imposter syndrome may feel impossible to some, but it is achievable. Experts like Dr. Valerie Young state that “the only way to stop feeling like an imposter is to stop thinking like an imposter.” 

By doing this, you are becoming consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head. 

Changing my way of thinking really helped me overcome my imposter feelings because I reframed the conversation going on in my head in a way a non-imposter would.

Another way to overcome imposter feelings is to talk to someone about what you are feeling and allow them to help you see yourself positively. As mentioned, many who suffer from imposter syndrome do so in silence. It is better to find help from a mentor or a supportive friend.

 If you struggle with imposter syndrome, just know that you are not alone, and these feelings will pass.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos