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HISTORYGYPSY's Photo HISTORYGYPSY SparkPoints: (1,099)
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9/19/15 9:43 P

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Oh trust me, everyone worth their salt deals with imposter syndrome! You are definitely in good company. You just have to keep reminding yourself of how competitive it is to get into a program -- you managed to accomplish that, so clearly a group of professionals with far more experience than you in judging candidates have decided that you are good enough to be among them!

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6/19/15 12:53 P

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I recently finished my first year of grad school. I feel incompetent all the time. I try to keep reminding myself that this is actually a good thing because it means I'm learning. If I was 100% sure of myself all the time, I'd be wasting time and money and probably wouldn't be having any fun either.

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1/10/15 1:20 A

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I am feeling like an imposter myself. Especially with the next semester starting soon and fieldwork/clinicals this year. Feeling panicky emoticon

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12/2/14 11:15 A

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I feel like an imposter every day. I think this is a normal part of the grad school experience.

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BUGWITCH's Photo BUGWITCH Posts: 186
5/11/14 1:29 A

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Oh lordy, we all do. Or, at least a good number of us. Just search 'imposter syndrome, grad school' on Google and you'll be led to some interesting and very helpful articles.

http://bugwitch.wordpress.com

http://www.retroraqs.com


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UOFIGIRL's Photo UOFIGIRL SparkPoints: (41,714)
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3/4/14 10:03 P

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Has anyone not felt incompetent at grad school?

"Life is like a Sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it." -Hen3ry


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GINIMCNEIVE Posts: 1
6/10/11 4:32 A

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I most certainly did! I went to one of the top 5 schools in my field; all the feedback I received was 100% negative even while receiving A's. The negative completely outweighed the positive outcome. I have always aspired to obtained my PhD, but I was beyond burnt-out by these comments. I felt incompetent and unskilled, especially when my research was focused on my grad chair's focus as well (and he is one of the best in the nation....). Though once having various positives fall into my lap, and my negative professors finally telling me great job, I'm finally back on track. It happens to us all! Hang in there! You will get through it!

Edited by: GINIMCNEIVE at: 6/10/2011 (04:34)
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6/4/11 9:15 P

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I haven't read all of the posts, so maybe someone brought this up, but it's important to remember that feeling incompetent is also a part of burnout (along with feelings of cynicism and exhaustion, and detachment). And if graduate students don't experience burnout, I don't know who does. Perhaps one of the things that contributes to this is being around other brilliant people all the time, but it may also be that an essential assumption of graduate school is that we simply don't (and can't) know or do everything. When we really understand that, I think it's easy to get overwhelmed by how much we cannot know or do (the papers we can't write, the classes we can't teach, the other disciplines that we will never master). I would say that the end of the semester (i.e., now) is the worst time for that. I think we have to give ourselves some grace and trust that every other graduate student out there has felt this, that it's part of the experience, and that feeling incompetent can provide fodder for our best thinking. On the other hand, though, be sure to also give yourself a rest. When you feel exhaustion and incompetence, zone out for awhile and rest your brain. Come back to your work (even if it's days later) with a refreshed mind and see if it doesn't help.

TYMBERWOLFE's Photo TYMBERWOLFE Posts: 2,378
5/22/11 5:58 P

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I feel incompetent constantly especially facing my teacher's cert test which is daunting at best...the professors pile on the work as I try to study for the test at the same time...I constantly worry that what I am turning in is not good enough. But I think it just goes with the territory. We all feel that way...whether our classmates admit it or not! Take it one day at a time and NEVER give up! I am half way through and I have had to get "pep talks" more than a few times...as well as giving support to friends who feel the same way...I constantly hear from people "am I good enough?" If you are in grad school obviously someone thought you have what it takes...but you have to believe in yourself most importantly. Feel free to send me a message anytime if you need to vent!

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YESPARKS's Photo YESPARKS Posts: 118
5/20/11 12:00 P

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Feel incompetent? Are you all kidding? I thought it was a pre-requisite!

emoticon

I feel like an imposer everyday...in undergrad, at work, and even now that I'm in grad school. I don't think it's ever going to go away. I am glad that I'm not the only one that feel like this!

"Who I am really keeps surprising me!"

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MAYBE_SOMEDAY's Photo MAYBE_SOMEDAY SparkPoints: (0)
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5/18/11 1:14 P

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Grad school is supposed to be part of a long learning experience. There are going to be days where you feel incompetent and days after where you will feel your strengths at full power. All your classmates may be coming with different levels of work/life experience so learn from them but most importantly learn from your own experiences while in grad school/during field experience. With my degree I have to do a year long internship, many students that are in the field right now admit to feeling like a "fraud" because you almost have to fake being a certain person/take on a certain role, after a while though you learn how to act/take on a given role. Keep on with grad school, see what happens.

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RULE32's Photo RULE32 Posts: 110
4/22/11 7:51 P

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Totally! This is a really great forum, thanks

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YISMET's Photo YISMET Posts: 364
3/17/11 12:31 P

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I am so glad this topic got bumped - I have been feeling totally incompetent lately. I have been filling out all these applications and every time I go to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation, I am terrified that they are going to laugh in my face. I just keep feeling like I am somehow missing out on some *big secret* on how to be good at grad school.

"One of the most significant facts about us may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one"
- Clifford Geertz


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3/16/11 11:46 A

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Definitely! I'm almost to the end, but I am still not confident as a grad student sometimes.

I don't know really how to get through it, except for staying the course and doing the best I can. Some semesters are better than other ones. I do recommend finding time for yourself to relax every day. Without that, the stress just gets to be too much.

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SACREDAMULET's Photo SACREDAMULET Posts: 3,256
3/1/11 11:47 A

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I've been out of college for 10 years and will be starting grad school in July. My degree will be in a topic I touched on in undergrad, however really don't have a whole lot of practice or experience in. I had a job in the field for awhile, and that does give me slightly more confidence going in.

In the beginning of college I felt like an impostor. I got into a school that I felt was out of my league and really studied hard to do the work. I quickly realized that I would do fine for the next 4 years.

With all that you guys say about grad school and feeling inadequate, I'm now wondering if I'll feel that way. I'm going to be realistic and assume that I'll have my days like all of you. I still just can't get over the fact that I'm returning to school- wow- it seems like it's been forever since I set foot in a classroom.

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DECEMBERLYNN's Photo DECEMBERLYNN Posts: 123
3/1/11 12:20 A

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Definitely! When I first started my masters, I felt completely out of my league. It seemed like all my classmates either had good work experience in the field already or were capable of critically analyzing every assigned reading even though I was so completely swamped I could barely get through them all. Compared to high school and college, which were relatively easy for me, grad school was the first time that learning didn't come easy to me, and I had to work really hard to do well. It took me until the end of the semester, when my professor praised one of my papers, to realize that I could actually do well in grad school.

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CRAFTYSARAH's Photo CRAFTYSARAH Posts: 473
8/7/10 11:21 P

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Amen, Lilabe.

And Ally, your journalism training sounds like it would be a real asset. The research skills, the ability to ask the right questions, a knack for boiling a lot of information down into the key points - I think all of those things will serve you well in grad school.

And everyone else in your program will probably benefit from the diverse experiences you bring to the table.

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LILABE11's Photo LILABE11 Posts: 210
8/1/10 2:24 P

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It really can be hard, because your best support in dealing with the "imposter syndrome" is usually your grad school friends, but I've found even friends can have trouble setting the competitiveness aside. Even here on this board, it seems like we are grappling with a little bit of a knee-jerk need to share credentials along with fears and supposed inadequacies. You don't need to go as far as comparing scores/accomplishments/etc... to find the proof that you deserve to be in grad school. You're obviously willing to learn and thoughtful enough to pay attention to how you feel about your classes and seek help rather than just cut out and run.

Everyone feels like they're not as smart sometimes, but it's never true that you don't have something unique to contribute. Part of the problem with the constant sharing of stats that goes on in grad school is that it's not just an environment full of other smart people, it's an environment full of people who are smart in all different ways. Some of my grad school peers have common sense, some don't. Some of them have an academic background where they learned all the classics, others are a boon to our department because they come from a different field of study entirely and therefore have a different point of view. Not all of what you have to contribute can be reflected in how often you have the right answer in class or raise your hand or even your more "resume-worthy" credentials. Part of the process of grad school is maturing in terms of your career to the point where you learn to find some intrinsic motivations and find a balance between considering how you stack up with others and considering how your work is furthering your own personal research and career goals.

Try to resist the urge to only look for similarities between you and your classmates to define your worth. You sound independent in a way a lot of grad students might not be. If you feel that you have some research to pursue on your own right now, go for it! But don't drop the class(es) just because you're not sure you're good enough. You wouldn't be there if you weren't qualified. Maybe it is worth finding the money (and the confidence!) for one class to keep yourself on track. Maybe a semester off would be the best thing for you right now. Just be sure to decide based on you and not others!!

Good luck! And good luck to all the "imposters" out there.

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ALLYSUN16's Photo ALLYSUN16 Posts: 58
8/1/10 8:49 A

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I'm glad to see all of the replies to this post because I have definitely been feeling some anxiety about school. My undergrad degree is in journalism and I am now in grad school to study occupational therapy. So many of my classmates come with such a stronger background and work in areas where they can somewhat apply what we learn in class to where they work. I, on the other hand, work in fundraising so I can't really do that. I've been really nervous and some of these posts have been reassuring that some days I'll feel on top of stuff and other days I'll feel behind and that's ok--just part of the grad school experience!

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GOVERNMENTALITY's Photo GOVERNMENTALITY Posts: 388
7/28/10 9:30 P

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I was one of "those" students - BA finished by 19, MA in hand by 21. I've taught college courses since I started as a TA when I was 19.

I'm much older now and still feel like an impostor every day - both at work and at graduate school. It reminds me of when my husband and I bought our first home and I looked at him and asked who would be crazy enough to give us a mortgage.

I used to have a sticker on my door that said "Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult." On bad days, I remind myself that it must be a pretty clever disguise since everyone else around me seems to believe it!

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CRAFTYSARAH's Photo CRAFTYSARAH Posts: 473
7/27/10 3:52 P

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Oh, I'm glad this topic got bumped to the top today. The combination of work + life + school has been a little rougher than usual lately - I'm glad it isn't just me.

Looking forward to the roller coaster swinging back to the "Sarah's on top of her game" direction for a bit.

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ELIZABETH_SKY's Photo ELIZABETH_SKY Posts: 442
7/27/10 3:25 P

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Heck.Yes.

First, remember that it's not like high school, where a bunch of people with varying abilities are lumped together. You're literally with the best of the best! You put a bunch of people together who were always the best students in class, and - oops. Somebody's got to be at the bottom of the class who has never experienced that before! That can make even those who are in the middle or almost-top of the class nervous, because it's wholly new!

And, you know, us overachievers were always used to being the fastest to know the answer, the only ones to raise our hands - but you put us in this competitive position, and suddenly everyone else seems to be trying so much harder.

Try not to psych yourself out too much. The other students and professors you're working with will do enough of that for you.

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius


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CULTURECHIC's Photo CULTURECHIC Posts: 953
1/25/10 12:29 P

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Apparently, you're doing a little better than you thought or they would not have recommended you for such an esteemable position. Nobody is that good an actor! But yes, I feel like a fraud all the time. When something goes well, I latch onto it. I didn't even think the LAST was that easy the way everybody said it was so I thought I was just a big idiot. It turns out I did very well. I got a perfect score on the writing section, so easy or not I felt a little better -- at least temporarily.

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CELTICLEIA Posts: 113
1/24/10 8:15 P

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Oh Dear God do I ever feel incompetent. I graduated from undergrad with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Studio Arts/Photography and then after a year and a half off decided to goto grad school for a Masters in History. Last semester I discovered that a number of professors recommended me for the position of assistant editor (editor next year)of the university's peer reviewed journal and I was just flabbergasted. Like others have mentioned I go through life at school making things up as I go along and just praying that no one figured out that I'm a huge fraud. Sure I can look competent and put together, but underneath I feel as if I haven't a clue as to what I am doing.

Edited by: CELTICLEIA at: 1/24/2010 (20:15)
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CULTURECHIC's Photo CULTURECHIC Posts: 953
1/16/10 6:48 P

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I am so glad I joined this group, because I always feel incompetent. Going to grad school is so stressful. Last semester I definitely got through it by eating and I can't let that happen again, so I have been working really hard. I was so relieved when I saw there were so many others out there like me. I worked and worked and ridiculously obsessed just to prove to myself I was smart. I'm almost embarrassed to say it but it's true.

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EANTHONYDC's Photo EANTHONYDC Posts: 340
12/25/09 1:57 P

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A former professor of mine - one of the most intimidatingly intelligent women I have ever met - once told me she felt like a fraud everyday. She's a tenured professor, leader in her field, and about 20 years out of grad school. It makes me feel better to know that she feels like that, too!

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PSYCHOJULES's Photo PSYCHOJULES Posts: 13,636
12/23/09 12:26 A

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hmm...glad to know i'm not crazy. I just hated that feeling (and the fact that everybody got the flu at least twice this fall probably didn't help me at all--ugh).

I'm glad i passed my classes, but I'm wondering if I'm really gonna apply for spring semester. I signed up for classes, but I might cancel one or both of them. I don't quite have enough money, and to top it off, I think I've got a research project of my own that I want to work on. But I've got to make some phone calls about accessibility for my research materials before anything else.

hmm...i feel much better now.

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ROSIEJP's Photo ROSIEJP SparkPoints: (188,001)
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12/22/09 11:17 P

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They always say that "imposter syndrome" is a normal part of being a graduate student. The rational part of me understands that everyone feels anxious and insecure at some point in their academic career. The irrational part of me still completely freaks out and feels inept most days. Knowing that others share my feelings doesn't make them any easier to deal with.

Now that I'm 3 years into my program, I'm feeling less and less like an imposter. If I made it this far, I believe I can finish my degree. However, I'm less confident about making the transition into academia. I've found that it's been really important to talk about my insecurities with my peers and mentors. They've been very supportive as I try to develop the confidence I need to navigate my program and explore future career opportunities.

"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world."
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DANCINGDARKLY's Photo DANCINGDARKLY Posts: 959
12/21/09 4:32 P

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My whole first year, especially the first semester. I remember even feeling almost like a fraud, like I didn't deserve to be there as much as my classmates because they were doing so much better than I was.

I still feel that way sometimes, although it's gotten better. There's always those moments when it seems like everyone else "gets" whatever I'm supposed to be learning, and I'm stuck hoping someone can explain it to me so I can understand too.

I think the important thing is just to keep doing what you can. Usually it gets better. And based on the conversations I've had with some of my classmates, I'm hardly the only person who at some point or other has felt like they're drowning. For many of us it's an entirely typical part of starting grad school.

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LULUHARRISON's Photo LULUHARRISON Posts: 568
12/21/09 10:33 A

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I ditto Betsy - graduate school has been a real roller coaster for me and so far, everyone I've talked to has had pretty much the same experience. The end of the semester is often the worst time because stress is multiplied. At the end of my second semester, I was diagnosed with mono and at the end of my third, I got whooping cough. I am SURE it was related to stress. AND it's all part of the process. emoticon

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EANTHONYDC's Photo EANTHONYDC Posts: 340
12/20/09 10:17 P

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My Facebook status earlier this week was:

"Betsy Anthony wonders how she could feel so on top of everything yesterday, when today she sees clearly she's heading for disaster?! Is this just doctoral-student life - complete confidence one minute, and anxiety attacks the next?"

My main anxieties and worries come from not having done enough prep or studying, although I work like 10 or so hours a day. That's my issue in all parts of life, though - never thinking I've done enough.

I think that feeling really low at some points is part of the gauntlet that is graduate school. I have very quick and short mood swings - this FB status was on Thursday and now I am feeling really on top of things.

So, I say, hang in there until your rise up on the natural wave of confidence. You are doing better than you think you are - I'm sure of it!

~Betsy

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PSYCHOJULES's Photo PSYCHOJULES Posts: 13,636
12/20/09 9:04 P

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Hey there.

I was really wondering something, of course I'm still doing a ton of thinking now. Maybe its my nervousness about my grades coming in, but I remember this past semester, and how I just felt like the rug was pulled from under my feet and all that was below it was slick ice.

I really felt so much slower than my classmates most of the semester, and I couldn't understand why. I mean, I was a bit of an average student, and I did participate, but I sure didn't feel like I had contributed very much. I'm really debating whether or not i should just take one class this coming semester, which I'm sure I would, but now I'm debating on whether or not to take a break this semester and just work and try to find a job instead. Ugh.

I'm curious what you guys did to get over your feelings if you got them, or if you know somebody who went through them. It was my first grad school semester, but i'm starting to feel that uncertainty again, and its impeding my days.

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