Imposter Syndrome

Really I could write forever about this. But I’ll try to not make it too whingey.

Yes, I suffer from imposter syndrome. There, I said it.

Like most PhD students, I have the constant feeling hanging over me that it’s all a mistake. I got to where I am because of a mistake and I’m only pretending that I’m able to do all these things.

Contrary to expectation, this gets worse the more I succeed at things.

At the moment, I’m going through what most would consider (from the outside) to be an amazing stroke of good luck, and hard work paying off. I have people asking me to be involved in my research, I’m leading workshops for government programs, I’ve won two scholarships to go overseas (one to present my work, the other for training) and I’m halfway through my exegesis. Which to some part of my brain means that I’m just trying to fool more and more people, and someone will find out eventually.

I’m terrified of every single event I have coming up. Logically I know that I shouldn’t be.

I do try to talk to people about it. I try to find support, but because it’s imposter syndrome, the usual answer of “you’re amazing, look at all this stuff you’re doing” actually is evidence to the contrary to me. And the response “don’t worry, you’ll be fine” feels like people are dismissing my problems, with no attempt to actually understand them. I know. Unfair thinking on my part.

I don’t have an answer for this yet. Oh sure, I find plenty of temporary answers – cups of tea, complaints to friends, typed rants on the internet, running, meditating and so on. But they are all just bandaids. I hope that I can find something longer lasting soon.

If you’re in the same position, I’m happy to chat about it. I find truth in “a problem shared is a problem halved” – even if it’s only for a few minutes.