The Academic Nightmare – Imposter syndrome

My latest blog post for the Sheffield Students’ blog. Have a read and let me know what you think!

We Are Sheffield Students

Constantly doubting yourself? Have a sense of self-disbelief? Can’t believe how or why you are doing your degree/career? Racked with fear that somebody will find out you’re bad at what you do (even if you’re awesome)? Frequently deliberate over whether your life is heading in the right direction? Join the club…

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2 thoughts on “The Academic Nightmare – Imposter syndrome

  1. didn’t really want to leave a comment on your Sheffield Uni Blog as I’m not a Sheffield student, but I wanted to chime in and say, yup, with you on the Imposter syndrome… I spent my undergrad years convinced someone was going to come up to me, tap me on the shoulder, tell me that they had made a horrendous mistake and they were terribly sorry, but they couldn’t allow me to continue on my degree course… Even when I was getting marks of 80+ I was convinced the tutor ‘felt sorry for me’… I thought this was just me and my screwed up head, and it wasn’t until I mentioned all this to a friend and she said… look, go google imposter syndrome. I have to tell you, the total and utter relief when I realised that it has a NAME, and I’m not alone in feeling it!, was palpable. I’m sure you know what I mean, although I’m not sure people who don’t have it (or something else) will.

    Apart from identification, and the relief of knowing you’re not alone, I think the thing that most helps me is this: I have a sheet on the wall above my desk, which has all the positive comments I’ve ever had on it. Whether that’s positive comments about my undergrad dissertation (‘one of the most interesting I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading’) or comments about an article I wrote for an academic journal, which was reviewed by a leading historian as being “really, very good” … it all helps. If you know yourself, when you catch the first few thoughts that you know will spiral into Imposter Syndrome mindset, the doubts that build and build… you can cut the legs out from under the doubts by reading and re-reading something like that.

    I think, too, telling people that you have it can help too. The people around you on a daily basis, partners, parents, etc. – just being able to go to them and say, look, I can feel the doubts starting. please distract me/talk me up/whatever works … hiding it away and pretending you don’t have it and that all is okay is just about the worst possible thing you can do and this is where articles like yours come in so useful because it helps to make people realise they’re not alone, they don’t have to be alone, and that the way that they’re thinking isn’t unique to them, but its also not how it should be and that you can get help!

    thanks for writing this 🙂


    • Stewart Barker says:

      Thanks for your message, and for taking the effort to comment on my personal blog! Although you are more than welcome to comment on there, it isn’t just for sheffield uni students.

      You’re welcome, and thanks for reading! I’m glad you seem to have a good handle on things. i’m still struggling every now and then, but slowly getting better!


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