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imposter syndrome

The Imposter Syndrome – Realizations and Acceptance

Hello! It’s been over a month since my last check-in. I’ve been very busy juggling with work, chores and cats. You might think this topic I’m gonna share is so special that I really found the time to jot this down, and you are right! This all started when I spoke with Sveta, a good friend! We were talking about me graduating recently. That’s what I love hanging around with the smart and logical ones because I always learn something new. This time – I learned something significant – a self-discovery, a eureka moment! If not because of hanging out with this amazing woman, I wouldn’t realize I am experiencing this “Imposter Syndrome” all this time.

“So, you are smart”, she told me after knowing about a recent achievement I had with my research. I shrugged my shoulder and replied, “No. It was just luck and persistence.” Later on, I realized that this response started everything, and it paved way to a self-discovery. Then, she called me out for discrediting my achievements myself, and I reasoned. I had this belief that if only everyone will work their asses off and stop procrastinating, they will achieve the same. If only they will get out of their bed instead of thinking when to finish what they started, and start doing it instead, they will achieve the same.

After a few days, I found myself reading comments on a PhD group on Facebook about this “imposter syndrome”. One posted about it asking everyone from the group how to cope up with it. The term was new to me. So, I headed to my best friend Google and voila – I found out that I also have all of the symptoms! It’s not really only me all this time. It was a surprise – believing what I thought didn’t exist. But you might wonder, what is really an “Imposter Syndrome”?

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It’s a little bit hard to explain, but to simplify it, it can be summarized by this quote: “She is quick to accept blame for her mistakes but attributes her successes to luck or chance.” Basically, when you have this, you feel like your success is not because of you. You feel like you are a fraud, even if receive a lot of praises for your achievements or you are presented already with the evidences contrary to it. I haven’t thoroughly researched about it but based on what I read, it’s not something that you develop, but it appears when people are in situations where they are truly successful. It is common to successful and gifted people.

The day I found out about this, I breathe a sigh of relief. I’m not alone all this time, and I immediately talked to my thesis adviser. Often, I receive positive feedbacks, mostly from my adviser. Although, I take them in but there was this time that have assumed she was only giving it to make me feel better especially after I failed my final defense. Getting into graduate school is incredibly challenging. Sometimes, I wonder if I really deserve to be here, or if there was some mishap in the system which allowed me to “slip through” the final stages.

But, I only realize it now after I mentioned to her I am experiencing this “Imposter Syndrome”. I have this GRIT which keeps me apart from the rest. The ability to push and follow through on commitments is not a skill you see very often in people. It is only possessed by a person who has a true courage, passion and perseverance. That’s what makes him successful!

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GRIT – I believe I have this! I own it, I am owning it this time. With grit comes resilience. I may have failed my final defense, and receive lots of constructive criticisms during hat from my thesis panel members, but what draws my head up is my resilience brought by grit. Without this, I wouldn’t be able to move forward and persevere despite the obstacles – the requirement of having to add another set of experimentation which equated to months of work again. Without grit, I wouldn’t make it to the FINISH LINE.

I realize that I have more power than I gave myself credit for. It doesn’t mean I have to brag, but I should have treated myself better every time I receive a compliment. I never thought my own mind became the biggest critic. And it’s much harder to overcome an obstacle to success when the real obstacle is yourself.

To Maam Hana, my advisor – Thank you for all the support, kind words and affirmations throughout my journey in graduate school. Please know as I look back, your belief in me when everything was clouded has really helped me believe in myself. For this, I can’t thank you enough.

And to you, Sveta – Without you, you won’t be reading this post. I might find out about this later, but I thank you for helping me figure this out the soonest as possible in life. Please know you are an amazing woman, and I will learn so much more about you if you keep me company. See you and your cats around!

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