LSE - Small Logo
LSE - Small Logo

Liberty

April 12th, 2024

Imposter syndrome: what is it, and how to deal with it?

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Liberty

April 12th, 2024

Imposter syndrome: what is it, and how to deal with it?

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

You’re a student at LSE. Tutors tell you that you’re doing well and your grades do reflect this. Yet, for some reason, no matter what anyone tells you and marks you receive, you just can’t shake the feeling that you’re unworthy of success and doomed to fail. Even worse, you believe everyone around you is thinking the same thing. If this feeling sounds all too familiar, you’re certainly not alone – you may be experiencing “imposter syndrome”. It’s a term used to describe a sense of unworthiness and a feeling that you don’t belong, despite hard evidence of your achievements and accomplishments.

Anyone can experience “imposter” feelings, although minority groups (based on gender, ethnicity, social class and disabilities) tend to be particularly vulnerable. In a competitive environment like LSE, full of high-achievers, such feelings are likely to be exacerbated.

This dreaded impostors syndrome is something I certainly battled with throughout my undergraduate programme — even during my current master’s studies, sometimes. However, on a more positive note, I’m definitely learning how to overcome it. Whilst it’s a journey and not something that disappears overnight, I want to share with you some important lessons I’ve gained. If you’re looking to get over this pesky syndrome as well, this advice is for you:

1. Separate facts from feelings

Maybe you’re in a seminar, scared to add to the discussion because you feel your contribution won’t be “clever” enough. Maybe you’re at a careers event and no one else looks like you. Or perhaps you’re preparing for an interview, and suddenly your intuition tells you that you’re not worthy of the job, with the thought: “Someone else would be better suited anyway.”

When I feel this way, I shift my mind straight to the facts. By listing my achievements in my head or out loud, I remind myself of all the the progress I’m making,  assignments I’ve done well in, and the praise I’ve received. Whether it’s keeping a mental note of your successes — or even writing them down — make sure that when you feel an “imposter” you have your accomplishments ready to reel off. You’ll soon realise all feelings of self-doubt exist only in your head and they’re not actually real. After all, you wouldn’t be at LSE if you weren’t deemed capable.

2. Talk to someone and build a support network

To reiterate again, you’re not alone in feeling this way! “Imposter” thoughts are pretty common and can even persist when you make the transition into the working world. Rather than bottling up your feelings, it’s best to talk to someone you trust: your personal tutor, a friend, or a family member. Discuss how you’re feeling and let them know if there’s anything they can do to support you. Even LSE offers several facilities where you can discuss these negative feelings: Student Wellbeing and Counselling Servicecs, LSESU Advice Service, a range of Academic Support Services, including LSE Careers. Not only are they an excellent outlet to communicate your thoughts, staff can signpost you to helpful external services that promote positive mental health. So, take advantage of the people and networks around you — often you’ll find that many of the people you speak to can relate to you in the same way.

3. Be yourself, don’t compare

I know it’s cliché, but it’s perhaps the most important tip — and definitely the one in which I wish someone had told me earlier. You’re only going to overcome imposter syndrome when you accept yourself for who you are.

More often than not, the reasons as to why you feel like an “imposter” are the things that make you unique. In other words, what you perceive as your disadvantages can also be used to your advantage. I remember when starting at LSE I attended a networking event where I was surrounded by male students using business jargon I didn’t understand. Immediately, I felt out of place. However, instead of comparing myself and trying to be someone I’m not, I thought about what I can bring to the table: my own unique life experiences and individual personality. You’ll never feel you belong in every situation you encounter, but it’s about playing the cards you were dealt and not underestimating your worthiness because of it.

 

About the author

Liberty

Hi, I'm Libby! I'm currently studying a Master's in Theory and History of International Relations at LSE.

Posted In: Student life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bad Behavior has blocked 804 access attempts in the last 7 days.