Imposter Syndrome: Trust me it’s a real thing!
When I was in secondary school I truly believed that every teacher was a fully mature adult, an absolute expert in their subject area and had no life outside of the classroom, however now I know that’s going to be me, I’m beginning to question it entirely.
Me? An adult? Don’t get me wrong I’m almost 23, yet thinking of myself as an adult, nevertheless an adult who is going to be shaping kids’ lives is terrifying. I know full well that on paper I am qualified to begin my teacher training, so why does the thought of standing in front of a class and teaching them English make me feel like an absolute fraud?
The answer: Imposter syndrome, and having spoken to many recent graduates in a wide range of career choices it’s a feeling that honestly isn’t that rare.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Imposter syndrome, it’s basically the persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of your own efforts or skills. It is the absolute fear that you are just blagging your way through life and one day someone will turn around to you and say “hey, you’re not qualified to be doing this”.
Imposter syndrome is a feeling that has recently crept up on me as I’ve started preparing for my PGCE and one that only becomes more intense if I think about students viewing me how I viewed my teachers. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that I believed my teachers knew it all, that there wasn’t one question you could ask them that they wouldn’t know the answer too. In reality, I’m sure every teacher has had at least one question that has stumped them before, if not more than one.
Teaching is most definitely a career that you keep learning in, I fully expect my students to teach me things as much as I teach them. Not always having the answer is okay, you wouldn’t be human if you knew everything and the likelihood is, if you’re constantly perfect your students may struggle relating to you.
This being said, I do know that it will all be okay. I will complete my PGCE to the very best of my ability and yes that first time I’m in a classroom by myself may be daunting but I will have worked hard to get there and I will be the very best teacher that I can be.
So, why do I still feel like a fraud? Honestly, I think it is embedded in us. When at University I was that focused on graduating I didn’t really look past that point, mentally that is. Physically I knew my plan, I knew I wanted to become a teacher, but I never really considered what happens to your mental health when you no longer have that cushion of “I’m at uni” to fall back on. Going out into the big wide world is scary, and that is definitely okay to admit. Graduation is constantly hyped up and it is one of the most exciting days of your life but then as soon as the ceremony ends, the partying is done and you go home ready to start a career, that feeling of Imposter syndrome sets in; well it did for me anyway.
I am by no means saying that in order to succeed you need to suppress any feelings of Imposter Syndrome. I think it’s perfectly natural to always feel it in some aspects of your life, whether that’s while you’re still at Uni, in an apprenticeship, in your career, in family life, anything at all. But personally, sometimes I wish I could minimise the doubts, even just a little bit.
If you google ‘how to get over Imposter syndrome’ the first option that comes up is ‘come off it’. I won’t lie, this made me laugh a lot. It’s so direct, but you can’t argue with the logic. Maybe it just is a mental thing that you need to stand up to and scream in its face “I AM GOOD ENOUGH”.
Other options include ‘stop comparing yourself to others’, ‘celebrate yourself and all your victories’ and ‘share your fear with others’. Ultimately, every single bit of advice I have researched points to your mentality and how you view things. It is so important to understand that you are your own person and you have done so much to be where you are today.
I guess I have started with the last idea, sharing my fear with you all, but hopefully when reading this some of you may recognise feelings you are having, or even better feelings you have overcome. Imposter syndrome definitely isn’t something that you should be ashamed of, it is a legitimate fear that anyone, of any age, in any career can feel.
For now, I will continue to tell myself that I am good enough and that any job is a constant learning curve and I don’t have to know it all at this very moment.
If you have any advice on controlling this fear or you’re battling with it yourself, please comment on this post or drop me a message I would love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for reading!