The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Friday December 8th

Imposter syndrome is real — you’re not alone

(Photo courtesy of Flickr / Firesam!, December 8, 2010)
(Photo courtesy of Flickr / Firesam!, December 8, 2010)

By Chelsie Derman

Sometimes, as the editor-in-chief, I feel like a fraud. It may be approaching the end of the semester, and I have spent over fourteen weeks in my role, but I still can’t help but feel like a fraud when I enter The Signal office and lead our weekly editorial and admin meetings. Even when we all sit around the big, round table in Forcina, and I go around the room, asking every editor about their weekly stories, I can’t help but feel a little bit out-of-place leading the meetings.

I still feel the frustrating lasting effects of imposter syndrome, which is a phenomenon that describes feeling inadequate in your role despite your achievements.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always put the other editors-in-chief before me on a pedestal and idolized them. They always seemed so put-together, always knew what to say, always felt comfortable in their leadership role. They knew how to run things. They were outgoing; they loved anything to do with journalism and put their heart and souls into the paper. I knew they could conquer the world if they wanted to, knew they would have no problems getting jobs post-grad.

Maybe it’s because of my anxiety or the fact I’m introverted, but I never felt on the same level of all of the incredible editors-in-chief before me. Sure, I love The Signal, I have been editing and writing here for four years, and I know how to effectively run this organization, but I’ve never felt like that was enough. I always felt awkward at meetings, not outgoing enough, and not as put-together. While I came into my editor-in-chief role wanting to accomplish so much — wanting to work toward bringing a print paper back — I felt like certain parts of The Signal could have been stronger under my leadership.

Not that I’m not proud of all of the work writers and editors have done this semester — I am. But there’s always a little nagging part of my brain saying, you could do more, you could do more, you must outdo the editors-in-chief before you so your imposter syndrome will disappear. So you will no longer feel like a fraud.

Maybe I idolized the editors-in-chief before me too much. While I always saw them as remarkable editors who always gave the perfect advice, maybe they weren’t as perfect as I saw in my eyes. Maybe they experienced imposter syndrome too. I never asked editors-in-chief before me if they ever felt this way, so I won’t ever definitively know (and I know I won’t ask), but maybe some of the editors-in-chief before me did. Who knows?

But to future Signal editors-in-chief or student leaders who may feel this way: Know that you’re not alone. Imposter syndrome is real. It’s frustrating and makes you feel like you're not the “true leader,” but that’s not necessarily true. 

According to the American Psychological Association, 82% of people experience some form of imposter syndrome — and thus it’s completely normal to feel this way.  

Freshman year I never thought I would be where I am today: Writing this editorial as the editor-in-chief. I never thought I would be running the whole organization. I hadn’t even thought I would serve as a section editor, but I thought applying couldn’t hurt, and I served as a section editor for five semesters.

Don’t let imposter syndrome, or your insecurities, hold you back. Apply for that e-board position that you want. Trust yourself, and everything will be OK in the end. Be proud of everything you have done or are currently doing.

Working for The Signal has been a fulfilling experience, and despite my imposter syndrome, I couldn’t be more grateful for the previous editors-in-chief who had put their trust in me, who believed in me enough to let me edit for this paper. I still remember how excited I was my freshman spring when I got my reviews editor position, still very new to the organization. Despite feeling like a fraud, I am confident that because of all of my wonderful editing experiences at this organization over my four years, I feel ready and prepared enough to excel in my first job straight out of college. 

I am excited to see what the future of The Signal holds, and I am confident that the editor-in-chief following me — as well as other future editors-in-chief — will excel. The Signal is at a strong place and will continue to produce compelling stories.

Thank you, The Signal, for believing in me.


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