Do you constantly battle with self-doubt, unworthiness and the legitimacy of your success? Do you downplay your achievements and find it challenging to take genuine praise? Do you feel like someone will expose you and tell other’s why you don’t deserve to be where you are? Do you believe your accomplishments are simply because of luck and easiness of the task? If yes, then let me tell you that this is what Imposter Syndrome looks like.
At top universities, particularly a highly competitive one like LSE this syndrome is very pervasive. It is not just students who face it, but even professors. However, this feeling can be harmful to your future growth. It can start affecting important areas of your life, such as mental health, relationships, and productivity.
As the first step you need to acknowledge it and realize that in the world of academia, these thoughts are pretty common: so you’re not alone. It is best to confide in someone you trust, such as a parent, friend or mentor. LSE offers several facilities to maintain positive mental health and overcome negative emotions such as the Student Counselling Service, Academic Support Services, LSESU Advice Centre, LSE Careers along with a comprehensive list of helpful external services.
It is also important to separate facts from feelings. This is because your feelings are not always representative of the actual reality. So maybe, you think others are better academic writers, and you will never be able to achieve their level. However, it could very much be possible that they have grown up studying in a very different kind of educational system which is in tandem with the writing demands of the university standard. Now, this doesn’t make you a bad writer (that’s a false feeling); all you need to do is strategically work towards writing according to the required format.
Comparison is one of the biggest reasons behind this syndrome. It is hard not to compare when you are surrounded by high-achievers. LSE is a space full of successful, extraordinarily ambitious and intelligent students who seem to be flaring brilliantly at literally everything. But it does not make sense to compare yourself to those students who are at different stages of their careers. For example, a PhD student will know more in comparison to a master’s student because of the level of study. Moreover, you might think others are able to do so many things, while you are stuck with endless readings and essays. However, consider this, they might be better at managing time or are merely fast readers. With practice, you can also get there but don’t beat yourself up; everyone’s growth pattern looks different.