College students may be affected by “imposter syndrome”

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Impostor syndrome is a phenomenon largely affecting college students, and the majority may not even be aware of it.

Feeling inauthentic, never giving oneself credit and downplaying one’s success are usually the three main attitudes surrounding impostor syndrome, said Gita Donovan, a Counseling and Psychological Services counselor and psychology graduate student. It is most prevalent when an individual is in constant fear of not meeting the expectations set by themselves or others.

“(Impostor syndrome) is something I deal with as a professional and even as a graduate student that comes up in thinking about my self-worth, and this question of ‘Am I good enough?’” said Asian Pacific American Resource Center coordinator Jacob Chacko. “We thought it would be relatable to students.”

APARC and CAPS held a presentation Wednesday to open up a dialogue and bring awareness to the topic. CAPS counselors Will Concepcion, Ph.D., and Donovan led the hour-long interactive discussion.

“I thought (the talk) was a great idea because it seems like it’s something that affects everybody to a large extent, especially college students,” Donovan said.

Concepcion and Donovan suggested ways to tackle feeling like an impostor, including talking about it with peers and mentors, celebrating one’s successes and making an honest list of positive qualities.

Impostor syndrome is not considered a mental health issue itself, but it can lead to mental health issues like anxiety or depression, Donovan said.

“Mental health is not something that is often talked about in the Asian Pacific Islander American community, so we wanted to provide a space where we can have that conversation and let our students know that this is a place where you can talk and address mental health issues,” Chacko said.

To Concepcion, perception is projection, and how one makes sense of the things they experience could possibly determine their destiny.

“Feelings related to impostor syndrome are not bad,” Concepcion said. “It’s just the way on how you channel it and harness that kind of energy that propels you rather than hinders you.”

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