Don’t go down the rabbit hole – Imposter Syndrome

One of the phrases that I heard the most since coming to Hack Reactor is – “Don’t fall into the trap of imposter syndrome. All of you are smart and deserve to be here”.

Well first of all, what is imposter syndrome? Imposter/fraud syndrome is a term psychologists use to describe people who are unable to recognize their own accomplishments. People suffering from this are convinced that they are frauds or phonies and fear that others will discover the truths about them. They could have an endless of list of accomplishments but those are considered as results of luck, lying, or timing.

Now that I look back, I think I have been dealing with imposter syndrome for awhile. Just to give few examples, on my college graduation day, I felt embarrassed to celebrate graduation because I was thinking to myself, ‘so what, everyone graduates’ and I packed up and left campus in a rush as soon as I got my diploma. When I got accepted to grad school, I didn’t feel like telling anyone because once again I was thinking ‘everyone I know got accepted.’ These feelings worsened after I finished grad school. Attending grad school was supposed to make me smarter and better and I felt like that didn’t happen.

After many hours of meditation and self-reflection, I realized later that the reason why I felt like a fraud and ashamed to talk about my accomplishments was because I was comparing myself to a perfect version of me that never existed. I was thinking of myself as a more important person and ironically, this excessive self-importance caused me to feel like I am inadequate and unqualified. It’s really funny how the mind works.

Back to talking about Hack Reactor.

Given the intensity of Hack Reactor’s curriculum, It is easy to feel like I am an imposter. I am coding/studying all day every day surrounded by my classmates who are bright and motivated. But luckily, Hack Reactor has a great culture that makes me feel safe and that I won’t be penalized for not knowing things. After all, I am doing this program for myself, not anyone else.

Below are some reminders I give myself to overcome imposter syndrome:

So, I am not going to stress even if I feel like an imposter sometimes. I don’t know everything but I know that while I am strict on myself, I tend to overemphasize what other people do. I am amongst good company and am continuously learning.

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Written by Hera Kim on 24 October 2015
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