Impostor Syndrome – It’s Hitting Some of Us Harder Than Others

As I remember opening my acceptance letter to the Brown School, I remember feeling a sense of relief. I got in.

Wide-eyed and full of elation, I thought of all the possibilities awaiting me in St. Louis. The relief and excitement of getting into graduate school settled once I arrived on campus. As I unpacked my belongings; settling into this new chapter of my life, I began to think about the reality of my future here. And the longer I did that, the overwhelming feeling of self-doubt began to plague my mind. 

I began to question if I deserved to be here, if I worked hard enough to get here, and if I was taking up space. 


I couldn’t put a name to my feeling so I began researching and was relieved to find out that I am not the only one who feels like they’re drowning in a veil of self-doubt. What I was experiencing is commonly known as imposter syndrome and is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a false and sometimes crippling belief that one’s successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill.” Though defining it helped me interpret what I was feeling, it didn’t solve my self-doubt. What I began to understand is that imposter syndrome is not only about self-doubt, but it also involves the perpetual fear of rejection. 


What I know to be true, based on experience, is that talking to someone always helps. When I spoke about dealing with imposter syndrome to the people closest to me, I soon found out that it was something that affected them as well. Though the people I spoke to about it had been dealing with it for a while, I was oblivious to it because of the stigma surrounding imposter syndrome, which made it difficult for us to openly speak about it. Celebrating myself and my peer’s accomplishments is another way to combat feeling like an imposter. Acknowledging and praising the successes in my life will make it difficult for me to sink back to those feelings of self-doubt. Overcoming impostor syndrome sounds like a quick fix, but the reality is that this is something that I’m going to have to work hard against to make sure that it doesn’t manifest into my thoughts. 


With that in mind, I ask myself how can I fully step into my role as a student ambassador to support my peers and prospective peers (that’s you reading this blog!)? The best way I can support others in dealing with imposter syndrome is to simply show up. In the Office of Admissions & Recruitment, it will mean me (and other student ambassadors) engaging in dialogue with you, and providing the best resources to prospective students during the application process. So reach out to someone in admissions. Regardless of who we are connecting with, we will make it our goal to build a meaningful connection.