A Lot of Doctoral Students Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome. Do You?


The assumption that you have to know everything before you consider yourself competent is a big reason why you – and a lot of other people – walk around feeling like a clueless fraud.” ~ Dr. Valerie Young

Imposter Syndrome!! Have you heard this term before? You may not have heard it but that necessarily does not mean that you are not victimized by it. I was in the same situation. I had the feeling of guilt and hopelessness. Looking at my friends and peer group who were progressing at a fast pace with worthy publications in their kitty and conferences to attend, I felt like I was not meant for   this place. Entangled in this cobweb, I did not know there was a name for this feeling and I was not the only one suffering from it. Had I known, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt daunted and affected from it to this extent.

 How did it all began, well there was not one single day or event that led to it. There were a series of events, over the days and weeks which consistently made me lose self-worth.

I remember one of the few instances, upon recapitulation. A fellow scholar came and screamed at me. “Do you know what mess you did with the data in the computer centre? And here you are unperturbed by the trouble you brought so many fellow students by corrupting the master file.” He said this and walked away, but left in in shackles. I wondered and analysed the situation to understand if I was truly responsible for the data getting messed up. There surely was no proof to  be sure that I had caused the mess and no one else  in the department every blamed  me for it but those words of a fellow stated with me not just then but for a long long time to come. I repeatedly kept feeling that I wasn’t cut out for a PhD. Each small little incident and event kept adding to the feeling and made it stronger.

The worst was that, I could not gather the courage to admit this feeling to my supervisor. I kept hiding myself. The feeling and my actions to it kept becoming a vicious circle and added to my agony and over whelming feeling.

If you feel the same, and you constantly live in fear that your failures and shortcomings would one day get known to others. And all that you appear is only on paper and you are at a place you do not deserve. Do not ignore the situation and face it. It is just a state of mind and has no link with you accomplishments whatsoever. You would feel relaxed to know that some of the brightest of students have imposter syndrome as they believe that their achievements are because of luck and not their capabilities and hard work.

Category : Writers Block
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