'Do I belong here?' Imposter syndrome and how to fight it

Do you ever feel like you somehow slipped through the cracks? Like you’re an imposter and your achievements were faked?

On top of the stress of classes and the looming finals, it’s common for college students to experience self-doubt, which often leads to something called “imposter syndrome.” 

Imposter syndrome is described as feelings of inadequacy – like you are not as competent as others, despite evident success. According to a 2019 study by the Journal of Vocational Behavior, at least 20% of students will experience this syndrome at some point in their college career. 

On Nov. 11, the Associated Students of Orange Coast College (ASOCC) hosted an online workshop presentation titled “Do You Ever Feel Like a Fake Noodle?” explaining what imposter syndrome is, how it affects people, and how to cope with these feelings. 

The presentation was done by Henoc Preciado, an interim project manager for student wellness and basic needs in the Chancellor's Office of California State University, who has dealt with imposter syndrome himself and sees this as a means to help others who may be struggling with it. 

“During moments that folks feel like an imposter, it's important to remind oneself of all of the successes and wins that they have had...It's also important to seek mentors who can build you up and empower you throughout your journey,” he said. 

The presentation began with a slideshow of quotes spoken by successful celebrities and geniuses about their own self doubts and feelings of fraud. One activity asked viewers to rate symptoms of imposter syndrome and how they relate to their experience. 

“For that event in particular, I read the description and went ‘Oh, I don’t have that,’” said Candice Marisa, a film and television major at OCC. “But when he started going over the slides, I realized that wow, I relate to, like, half of these.”

Throughout the workshop, students were taught that imposter syndrome is a normal experience and they shouldn’t have to feel alone when it happens. There are ways to cope, through affirmations that you are enough and that you have rightfully earned your spot in your school and profession. It’s also OK to reach out to any mentors or professors who could potentially offer advice.

This workshop was a part of an eight-week leadership event hosted by ASOCC that would typically be condensed into a full day where students could choose which workshops they wanted to attend throughout the day. However, due to COVID-19, the event was broken up into smaller online workshops during September and October and called the Pirate Leadership Series.

“The topic of imposter syndrome wasn’t originally on the list,” Student Leadership Coordinator Julie Nguyen said. “But Henoc [Preciado] has worked with a lot of students at Cal State Fullerton and he thought that would be a good topic to introduce to students.”

Despite not originally being a proposed workshop for the event, the suggestion was met with support due to its universal nature, especially in a college setting like OCC.

Imposter syndrome can affect people outside of educational environments as well, as it especially tends to affect people in workplace environments too. While it’s disheartening how common it is for people to experience it, there are more resources now than ever for how to deal with imposter syndrome while we live in the age of the internet.

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