UConn Honors hosted the third of its “Stay Whelmed” events on Nov. 2, titled “Fight the Imposter Monster.” The series of events is designed to help students stay whelmed: Not overwhelmed and not underwhelmed, but the healthy area in between.
This event was led by Kaitlin Heenehan, Christie Soltys and Anne Kim. It explained the concept of Imposter Syndrome, which is defined as, “Fearing that others will find out that you faked your accomplishments and don’t deserve praise or your position because you don’t know what you’re doing; you’re an imposter while everyone else is an expert.”
“I think everyone can connect with some aspect of it,” Kim said.
Katie Grant, a seventh-semester secondary English and English education major, and Susan Naseri, a fifth-semester political science and human rights major, shared their personal experiences with Imposter Syndrome and ways they’ve found to reduce the negative feelings that go along with it.
“You can validate someone else but not do the same for yourself,” Grant said.
She explained that it’s easy to see all the positive traits and accomplishments of others, but it can be a challenge to see them in yourself.
Heenehan discussed ways to improve your self-confidence and to fight the so-called “Imposter Monster.”
“It’s normal to have feelings that aren’t happy,” Heenehan said.
She recommended listing out your strengths so that you can focus on your good qualities. She also said you shouldn’t be afraid to ask friends to affirm those good qualities, as it can be hard to look at yourself without bias.
“The way we see ourselves is different from the way others see us,” Kim added.
“When you’re in an environment where people support you, you start to internalize that,” Naseri said.
The event also talked about the tendency people have to explain away compliments. When we get complimented, we often underplay it or explain reasons why we don’t deserve the compliment.
Kim and Heenehan led the attendees in an activity to practice saying “thank you” and nothing else. Students shared their accomplishments and then complimented each other on them, but they had to just say “thank you” and move on.
“When people compliment you or hire you, it’s because they mean it,” Kim said. “You did not trick anyone.”
Another helpful exercise is listing out three accomplishments to yourself before bed. These can be as simple as sleeping enough, eating three meals OR going to your classes. It’s healthy to remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come; it isn’t bragging.
At the end of the event, students wrote out a time in their life when they felt insignificant or felt that they’d faced the “Imposter Monster,” and how they overcame that challenge. They then balled up the paper and threw it at the “Imposter Monster.” After, many of the confessions were read out loud. It showed that everyone has faced situations where they feel insignificant or like they don’t deserve what they’ve accomplished.
The event showed that while we all deal with the “Imposter Monster” in our lives, there are many positive ways of dealing with it. And if the feelings ever get to be overwhelming, they reminded students that UConn has a 24/7 on-call therapist and a variety of resources to help, which can be accessed at https://counseling.uconn.edu/.
Courtney Gavitt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.