Have you ever felt like you weren't enough? That despite your best efforts, success just wasn’t destined for you? Or that maybe even when you are giving something your all, you feel like you could have tried harder? Or been better? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you, my friend, may suffer from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome has been defined as the feeling of inadequacy or using luck to justify success instead of acknowledging your own talents and skill. Generally, your achievements are a product of your hard work, but imposter syndrome will have you believing otherwise.
I have suffered from imposter syndrome too, often brushing off the compliments I would get about my work as strokes of luck. I feel like a lot of women, especially women in science might suffer from this syndrome due to the nature of the field. Often, female scientists have to work harder than their male counterparts to prove their dedication/worth. This isn't unique to the field of science, but is a trend present across all industries. When women take part in activities outside of work they are seen as distracted or lacking dedication. Having hobbies and interests that aren't professionally related are normal, but it might make women feel like their drive is lacking because that's what others assume. This manifests itself into imposter syndrome by making women feel like if they care about things outside of work, they have not tried their hardest and could have been better.
I remember this being the case for me a lot throughout highschool. I was and still am really into fashion, so my peers assumed that because I cared about the way I dressed, it automatically meant I couldn't be academically inclined. I internalized these perceptions of myself to feel as though my time had to always be dedicated to my work, and if my attention was divided (ie caring about howI looked), then others would perceive me as less successful. These thoughts added to my experience with imposter syndrome because I always thought I was not working hard enough if I was still caring about things like fashion or reading my favourite YA. I would beat myself up for caring because the time I spent caring about these so-called “irrelevant” things, I could have been studying to get that extra 3% on my test.
This year especially during quarantine, I’ve had time to confront my own feelings and beliefs on what success is to ME, because that's what matters. Success shouldn't be defined by what others around you find important, but instead by what you find important. Confront yourself and acknowledge these feelings if you have them; know that you are not alone. To whomever is reading this and sympathizing please know that whatever you have done is enough, you are enough and your successes are your own because of your intelligence and skill. We all are enough.
By Darsh Kaur
@darshkaur on instagram