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Am I An Impostor?

Hi Jael,

I have attached your paper with my minor edits. I mainly corrected the few typos that I found and also made a few suggestions.

I think you did a great job!

For a normal, well-adjusted person, this would have been a great e-mail to receive from a professor, particularly after having spent countless hours writing, editing and rewriting. I should have been proud to receive such an e-mail. I should have been content that my hard work produced something that was so well received. My day should have been made, but all I could think was, “SHE FOUND TYPOS?!”

If there is one thing that graduate school has taught me is that I am more flight than fight, and more fetal position than flight. After receiving the e-mail above, I spent the next few hours in my head agonizing about the potential ramifications of my professor having found typos in my paper.

“She probably thinks I’m unprofessional and will refuse to give me a recommendation in the future.”

“She’ll most certainly say no if I ask her to support me in sending this paper out for publication.”

“The jig is up! She knows that I’m a fraud and that I don’t really belong here!”

These thoughts are laughable now, but for a few hours they were very real and very debilitating. I recognize now that these are just symptoms of the impostor syndrome: a phenomenon marked by the belief that one’s accomplishments are a fluke and that it’s just a matter of time before everybody knows it.

Unfortunately, the impostor syndrome effects and debilitates so many talented people. But here’s the thing, we’ve all got it (some more than others). We’ve all heard, at least once, a little voice telling us that we can’t, that we’re doing it all wrong, and that we might as well give up.

How do we ignore that little voice? Well…I don’t know, but here’s where I plan to start:

Every time that self-doubt knocks me down, I’m going to get up and give it my all. I suspect that this is much easier said than done. But I think I will have the impostor syndrome beat if everyday I decide to do two things: Rise and shine.

“Arise! Shine! For your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1, NIV).

Jael Amador writes from New York, New York.

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About Jael Amador

Jael Amador

writes from New York, New York.

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