Does anyone else have one of those days occasionally where everything is OK, work is going fine, people aren’t doing anything particularly annoying… but still you feel like something just isn’t right? I am having one of those days. My lab experiments are working, I have read a few papers… basically it’s a normal day and yet I still feel like I am not supposed to be here and that surely everything I am doing just wont be good enough.
I have read a lot about imposter syndrome since I started my PhD. It seems like everyone in the PhD community feels like they aren’t supposed to be here at one point or another. However recently I read a really important article which highlighted the fact that there is no such thing as an ‘imposter’ in science (I really recommend reading this if you are currently feeling out of place in your chosen field). Everyone here is here because they deserve to be and because they have worked so bloody hard to get here. I prefer the term ‘imposter experience’ the article uses as it implies more that it is the fault of the system rather than the person. Syndrome makes it seem like it cant be helped, it happens to everyone and it’s just the way it is. But that shouldn’t be the case! As the article says, why do we allow this system to make us feel so unworthy and just accept that this is our own self-doubt talking and it is up to us to overcome it.
I think maybe my experience of ‘imposter syndrome’ came from the fact that I jumped straight from my BSc straight to a PhD, skipping the usual year doing a masters degree. When I got into the lab and everyone seemed to have so much more experience with different techniques, I felt completely out of place. I found myself beating myself up about not knowing things that other people seemed to think simple. It didn’t help that my ‘buddy’ seemed to find pleasure in telling me that the questions I asked were actually very simple and he had never been asked these things by anyone higher than undergraduate. It was only when I helped a new student about a year later and they asked very similar questions did I realise that my ‘buddy’ was just a bit of a dick and experience doesn’t necessarily make you right. Clearly my supervisor saw something in me that made him believe I would be a good PhD student despite my inexperience. I think maybe he appreciated all the questions I wanted to ask him about his research and how interested I was in the subject. So basically, if you are wondering whether you deserve the success you have had in your chosen field… YES! There is a reason for everything, and if you have a few setbacks along the way, that doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. It means you needed to learn something as this was the best way to do so. I hope everyone reading this is having a good day and if not, feel free to get in touch with me here (or on my instagram ) for a chat ❤ (I promise its not weird if you just want to talk to someone!)
ps. Yes, I have wrote this purely to help my brain… and yes, my brain feels much better now that it’s all out!