Imposter Syndrome: What is it?

Let me draw your attention to any high achieving individuals biggest nightmare...

Imposter Syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. Simply put, you feel like a phony 24/7. Impostor syndrome can cause persistent worries that your parents, peers, and/or partner (whatever instance works for each scenario) will soon discover you're not “as great” as they might think you are. If unaddressed, these insecurities can lead you to becoming severely overwhelmed, experience stress, feel "unplugged" from reality, or plain burnt out.

Ever since I have started vet school, there is this little voice that whispers in my ear and tells me that I'm a fake, a fraud, and that I lucked into all the good things in my life—including being a vet student. What makes it harder you ask? Being surrounded by 160 other vet students in your class who feel the same. exact. way.

There are many different types of events or experiences that might incite a given episode of imposter syndrome. Failure to meet our own or another’s expectations is a frequent culprit. This cause is particularly problematic because often we are unaware of the expectations we hold of ourselves until we are faced with a situation in which we didn’t meet them. As a result, it can be difficult to work toward ameliorating this cause.

The most challenging part of Imposter Syndrome, for me anyway, is my inability to remove the high, unrealistic expectations. Combine that with social media and it plays into my feelings of inadequacy. More often than not, social media is dominated by stories and photos of others living the best parts of their lives—well-curated photos of vacations and major life events, as well as news of successes in people’s personal or work lives.

So, I think I can speak for many others around me... Please check in on your medical students, we're trying to keep our head above water.