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Psychology in the Office

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A common feeling among graduate students is that they somehow tricked a university or professor into letting them into the program. More than that, they are convinced that everyone else they encounter knows exactly what they are doing, while they themselves are not good enough to be there and will eventually be found out. Sound familiar to you? This terrible feeling is called imposter syndrome and can appear not only in graduate school programs, but in non-profit organizations, businesses, universities, , politics, and leadership roles anywhere.

I don’t have the answers about how to get rid of this feeling, though several others have proposed solutions. And there are several articles talking about famous people who have experienced imposter syndrome.

I merely want to bring attention to a feeling that people may be too scared to talk about if they are not a celebrity or successful businessperson, for fear of being exposed as a fraud or a liar. But it shouldn’t be taboo. Unless you are actively trying to deceive people, the constant self-doubt is a waste of time. I’m not saying that it is easy to dismiss these feelings, but maybe start by sharing with a trusted colleague. You might be surprised how good it feels to find out you are not the only one- and you are definitely not the only one. Also, why would you assume that everything good that has happened to you is a fluke? The odds of that are highly unlikely. So take a deep breath, give yourself some credit, and keep trying your best.

Megan JohansonThoughtwell