Exposing Frauds

Olivia Shackleton, Editor-in-Chief

Have you ever felt like you do not deserve to be in a position you hold or that you did not truly earn that position? Maybe you feel this way when you land an incredibly competitive internship or get elected to be president of the extracurricular activity that you love. If you have felt this way, then you’ve experienced impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is the idea that your success is due to luck instead of talent and hard work. According to an academic article published by the International Journal of Behavioral Science, almost 70 percent of people have experienced this feeling at some point in their lives, and it can affect any person in any walk of life. Psychologist Audrey Ervin explains that someone dealing with impostor syndrome is someone “who isn’t able to internalize and own their successes.”

So where does this stem from? Why do so many of us have this awful feeling of not truly accomplishing our successes? Why do we feel like frauds? These are the questions I ask myself quite often.

Not only do I find this topic compelling, which is why I am writing about it, but I have experienced it myself. Beginning my role as editor-in-chief, I felt like a complete fraud. I was still a sophomore when I took over the role, and I did not feel prepared to take on the position. Sure, I was thrilled to have the opportunity, but I did not feel like I deserved it. What could a sophomore know about running an entire student organization that produces a weekly paper? I didn’t know about the smallest aspects of the job, such as how our pizza gets ordered and ends up in the newsroom every week, or important aspects like how to send the pages to the printer. I went from being campus editor to the head editor at the paper — a position where I am managing an entire staff, having the final say on all decisions and answering questions from a staff that included new people who hadn’t previously been editors.

When I think about it logically, it makes sense that I have the position. I was one of two sophomores remaining on the staff when I got elected (since the seniors were graduating). I was the campus editor, so I did have a good amount of experience reporting, and I had pretty much managed the entire campus section on my own. I was ready to take on the next level of responsibility. However, it still popped into my head that I got lucky, and that I shouldn’t be in this role. I would remind myself how I skipped the stage of being managing editor, where you learn all the crucial skills for being EIC. I basically convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy of taking on such a big leadership role.

So why did I experience this feeling? Ervin stated, “People often internalize these ideas: that in order to be loved or be lovable, ‘I need to achieve.’ It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.” Ervin’s explanation makes complete sense to me. I have always put a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself to be the best and achieve the most. I put a lot of my value as a person in my work. I pride myself on my GPA and working hard in school. I consider my position at The Carroll News as an essential piece of my identity. Linking my value to what I accomplish puts a lot of stress on me, which I believe causes my impostor syndrome.

Now that I have identified the issue, I can work to solve it. An article published by Time magazine explains some remedies to help people overcome this feeling. “One of the first steps to overcoming impostor feelings is to acknowledge the thoughts and put them in perspective. You can also reframe your thoughts. It can also be helpful to share what you’re feeling with trusted friends or mentors.”

Hopefully, taking some of these steps will allow me to overcome impostor syndrome and prove to myself that I am truly capable.