Imposter syndrome, the fear of being ‘found out’ or a belief that you don’t deserve the achievements you have accomplished, is a common feeling among students, particularly at a university as prestigious as Imperial. It can often result in anxiety and self-doubt and can lead to you downplaying your success or believing that whatever you do is never going to be good enough.
If you feel yourself experiencing these emotions, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce and control them:
Break the silence
Be open about your feelings and recognise when they emerge. It’s important to talk to those close to you about your concerns to help you get a sense of perspective. You are likely to discover that you are not alone.
Know your strengths
Document your achievements as you go along to challenge any feelings of inadequacy. Be proud of your accomplishments and learn to accept compliments from others.
Don't be afraid of failure
“Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” (Professor David Burns, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine) Part of the learning process is not knowing where it will take you so try to reframe any defeat you may experience as a learning opportunity.
Don’t forget that you have been accepted onto a research degree at one of the top universities in the world. There may be times when working in a pressurised environment may seem overwhelming, however it’s important to remember that you are not alone and there is always support available to help you to manage these feelings. A wide range of wellbeing services are on offer at Imperial. The Student Support Zone webpages contain a full list of what's available.