UVU Latinx students and faculty gathered Sept. 28 to discuss their experiences with imposter syndrome, during an open forum hosted inside of the Fulton Library.
Imposter syndrome is described as the feeling that one is not deserving of their own academic success. According to the McNair Journal, imposter syndrome is disproportionately felt by first-generation students, along with those from minority groups and ethnicities. Many in the forum had expressed their experiences of going through this state of mind.
“Even though I got my Ph.D. in 2014, I still feel like I haven’t gotten over imposter syndrome,” said Leandra Hernadez, an assistant professor of communications and associate academic director for Service Learning at UVU.
Feeling like an imposter is not a random occurrence: this is a widely documented phenomenon that can be found all across the nation. Often it is associated with the pursuit of perfection.
“The imposter phenomenon and perfectionism often go hand in hand. So-called imposters think every task they tackle has to be done perfectly, and they rarely ask for help,” an article by the American Physiological Association argues.
It’s believing that you are already inadequate in a given setting, and that you should work harder and achieve more so that you can “deserve” to be where you are. This belief within imposter syndrome often leads students and faculty to set unachievable goals for themselves, harming themselves in the long run.
In a study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, researchers found that students who reported feelings of being an imposter often predicted mental health problems in the future and were more strongly related than stress-related problems.
“Minority status stress and impostor feelings were examined as predictors of mental health,” the study said. “Impostor feelings were stronger predictors of mental health than minority status stress.”
An article published by California State University warned of the effects of imposter syndrome, saying, “Without help, the negative effects that imposter syndrome may have on a student can continue well into their field of work and adulthood. Students suffering from imposter syndrome may reduce their professional aspirations and set goal limitations which can affect their career development.”
The forum also discussed how members of the faculty and students were dealing with imposter feelings. Ivette Pimentel, a participant in the forum and a junior at UVU, said during the forum that she had, “talked to people that have been through what I am going through.”
Hernandez also found relief in the social circles at the rock climbing gym, sharing that, “It’s hard to try and find space for belonging.”
These conversations are stepping stones for students who are working through these issues. Hearing fellow students talk and express shared sentiments provides a shared space for belonging.
“What I like about diversity dialogues is it helps bring awareness to the community about topics that aren’t talked about much. Especially since it’s a group of students who decide on the topics,” stated Natalia Frezzia, an academic coordinator for UVU’s Multicultural Student Services.
Frezzia stressed, “It’s important to talk about imposter syndrome because it’s something that happens to everyone at some point or another in everyone’s lives. Being able to put a name to it gives us power over that feeling.”