“Feeling Like an Imposter” – ACM Deputy Safeguarding Lead, Tecola Smith.

10 Mar 2021

This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.

Tecola Smith – ACM Deputy
Designated Safeguarding Lead

The title of this article is a statement that really resonates with me “feeling like an imposter”. 

Throughout my whole life, there have been moments of great success challenged with that little voice in the back of my mind saying, “I don’t know why you’re happy, you know you don’t deserve this” or the infamous “you aren’t good enough, they’ll soon see”. 

Well, that voice is the eerie sound of Imposter Syndrome (IS) or Imposter Phenomena

It’s a relief to know there is actually a name for the negative voice back there.

Imposter syndrome (Clance & Imes, 1978) is adapting to the ideals that puts doubt in your mind about your own abilities and achievements. 

Noah Kahan – False confidence:

You’re here for a reason, but you don’t know why

You’re split and uneven, your hands to the sky

Surrender yourself

Those suffering from Imposter syndrome feel that at any given time they could be ‘Caught Out’ for the fraud that they are, however, this is far from the truth.

Generally, individuals that suffer from Imposter syndrome are amongst the highest of achievers and are actually successful individuals, it’s sadly more prevalent in females than males. 

Many of your favourite influencers and celebrities are amongst those that suffer from imposter phenomenon, they describe their experiences as feeling overwhelmed with self-doubt.

If I walked into a lecture and asked everyone if they had ever felt self-doubt or as if they never belonged somewhere to raise their hands, I would suspect that around 90% or more would do so. 

So it’s safe to say we are not alone in this feeling.

Even though I am well aware of Imposter syndrome I still suffer from this phenomenon, the difference now is, following research of this topic, I am now able to work through it rather than run away from it.

I’m currently in my final year at the University of Leicester (UoL) studying a MSc in Psychology. If I showed you where I came from and discussed everything I have seen and been through you would openly say I should be a statistic; typical BAME female from a deprived background that wouldn’t amount to anything in her life, and don’t be fooled, I have believed I was that at one point in my life. 

It’s hard not to believe something when your school teachers constantly tell you and your friends that you will just be a “little street rat, with no future prospects”. They are the fuel behind my fire, and they are the reason I am so motivated today with huge aspirations and successes, but I believe they are also the reason I suffer from self-doubt and Imposter syndrome.

If I told you Imposter syndrome wasn’t a constant battle for me, I would be lying, but I have my coping mechanisms that help me through when I am feeling defeated, overwhelmed and just not good enough. 

So, we have figured out that some of us suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms:

  • Extreme lack of self-confidence
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Constant comparison to other people
  • Anxiety
  • Self-doubt
  • Distrust in your own intuition and capabilities
  • Negative self-talk
  • Dwelling on the past 

Linkin Park – Somewhere I Belong:

I wanna heal, I wanna feel what I thought was never real
I wanna let go of the pain I’ve felt so long
(Erase all the pain ’til it’s gone)
I wanna heal, I wanna feel like I’m close to something real
I wanna find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong

We now know the symptoms, but how do you overcome them?

Firstly, there is no specific treatment for imposter syndrome, but people can seek help from a mental health professional if the symptoms are greatly impacting their life.

Talk about it

Share your feelings with friends, family and peers that you trust. Getting their feedback can help the development of a more realistic perspective on your abilities and capabilities.

Imposter Syndrome awareness

Now that you know what imposter syndrome is and are aware of the symptoms, you can apply ways to overcome the self-doubt.

Be AWARE of your strengths and ACCEPT your weaknesses

In order to build up a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth, you need awareness and acceptance of BOTH your strengths and weaknesses. 

We are not made perfect and nobody is perfect, so we must accept that perfectionism is impossible.

Negative habitual thought patterns

Unfortunately, negative thoughts come to us most naturally, but it is time to challenge those negative thoughts by actively swapping them with positive ones. 

This is not a passive task and requires a great level of focus until you find you are naturally becoming a more positive person. 

Top Tips:

  • Keep a journal of positive feedback you have received from your peers, family and friends.
  • Make a vision board of all the successes you have achieved so far (no matter how small).
  • Reward yourself with celebrating when you achieve something (even passing an assignment).
  • Listen to motivational speakers first thing in the morning (e.g Les Brown, Anthony Robbins).

If you would like support with anything mentioned within this article please contact studentsupport@acm.ac.uk, alternatively, you can find out more information on our Student Services Canvas page.

If you have a concern for your wellbeing or that of someone else associated with ACM, please contact the safeguarding team:
Email – dsl@acm.ac.uk
Call – 01483 910197