Llena Mi Tasita: Did you really think this only gets you in school? So did I, don’t feel bad a
This is a topic that is talked about a lot and yet, sometimes it feels like it’s not talked about enough or it’s discussed in ways that are different from what you might be experiencing. It can feel like you’re going through it alone. Yes, I’m talking about imposter syndrome. Now I’m no therapist or psychologist, so don’t only take my word for this. I’m just going to be talking about my own experience with this dandy little thing that has been with me for some years and infests most parts of my life. 🙂
What it’s like
I don’t think I really understood what imposter syndrome was because it has been with me for such a long time that it almost felt normal. The Oxford Dictionary defines imposter syndrome as the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills. In layman’s terms, you feel like whatever you have accomplished— or in my recent experience, the major you are in —-you didn’t actually do or get on your own. How I feel and what goes on through my head basically comes down to “How did I get here?”, “I’m not really solving this on my own, so I don’t really belong here.”, and “If I don’t understand everything like I used to, then maybe this major wasn’t for me after all.” So, I am here to talk about my own experience so that hopefully you can talk about your own, if you need to. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and if you find yourself struggling with these feelings, you’re not alone. It’s completely normal.
You might feel it in more than one place
I bet you’ve heard about imposter syndrome more at school or through org emails and not in your own family or friend group. Sure, there’s always that one person you don’t vibe with or you feel like they try to make you feel out of place; but what happens when you feel that with your family or friend group? Well my little calaveras, I have experience in both! :’)
When I was a kid, I felt like something was off within my extended family. I don’t know how, but I felt like there were always eyes on me and that I was constantly made to look like a fool. Of course, that’s the entire experience we have in middle school (fun time for you to remember as you try to sleep :)) ), but this is a little different since I was still pretty young. This feeling of “They don’t really want me here, they’re just being nice for the time being” stayed with me like a shadow following me around, or more like a cloak I was in. The reason for this feeling is mostly unknown although I have an idea, but I won’t share that here chismosos/as/x. The feeling was basically imposter syndrome in my own family, but instead of knowing a reason for why I didn’t belong there, it was just an automatic feeling.
There wasn’t really a way for me to deal with this since I didn’t know how to put the feeling into words, and if I told my mom she would say that they do like me and I’m just being paranoid and overthinking it. As the years went on, I would only really see my extended family during special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. Eventually I stopped caring. How I came to this is still unclear to me since, at that point, I was just mad and numb.
The other experience I had was in high school. There I felt the same feeling as I had with my family, just with the first friend group I had. You know the feeling when your friends get along more with each other than with you? It was a weird time with classes and trying to balance a social life since, over time, my fears did become somewhat alive. I remained in this dark part of my mind until a phrase came to save me: mejor sola que mal acompañada (Better to be alone than with bad company) and I went on to find an actual friend.
Some Tips and Reminders
Those were my experiences. I’m not going into too much detail since this would turn into my autobiography instead of a blog, but I hope you get the gist of what I’m saying.
So, I have a few tips that could help you if your brain tricks you into falling into that mind space:
1. Los Mejores Amigx
One way to deal with imposter syndrome would be to hang out with your friends and to be open with them. Once you are clear with them, then they can help you more. This help could be hyping you up, lending an ear or knowing when to go to someone else that can help you more.
In the case that they don’t want to help you or they think you are lying, then it would be time to get new friends. You are already dealing with something that is telling you that you are not worth what you say or are or what you have accomplished, you don’t need that voice to also be in another person that you regularly see. Remember my calaveritas, mejor sola que mal acompañada.
Sometimes imposter syndrome can leave you feeling very bad about yourself to the point when you feel like doing nothing for hours. Or, you feel that it is better not to be here. When it gets to this point, perhaps you could talk with your advisor if you’re close or with friends who will help you. But after a while, it may be time to consider therapy because it is a lot to deal with and a therapist could help you with that.
I know that sometimes there is hesitation with therapy since we never grew up seeing therapy as an option for our health. I believe most of us grew up seeing therapy as a thing someone does when their mental health is at an extreme. Obviously, this is not true as you can go to therapy whenever you feel like it, whether you are feeling ok and just want to talk or if you start to feel depressed. There are many reasons that people go to therapy, it is not just limited to certain people, you can go if you want to and are willing to make it work.
You do have to choose a therapist that you vibe with, otherwise it may not be as effective. I can see why people are hesitant to go to therapy because not every therapist will share our culture and therefore they will not completely understand what we go through. But there are Latinx therapists out there that can help you. You just have to do a little research.
To get you started, here is the link to Latinx Therapy located here in Chicago.
There are some professors here on this campus that know what imposter syndrome is like because they’ve either had it or they’ve seen it through their other students. If you are comfortable with the idea, you can go to your professors during office hours or shoot them an email to just talk. I’m sure most will be happy to talk with you. Maybe they can share some experiences and give you some encouragement.
4. Cultural Centers!
Cultural Centers, such as LARES, do these talks, usually on zoom, about mental health, and once they did a workshop on imposter syndrome. It was very nice, they explained everything clearly, gave tips on how to deal with it and provided resources. Everyone in the meeting knew what it is like so you could simply attend without having to explain what it is like in the way you would explain to someone who doesn’t know what imposter syndrome really feels like.
If LARES did something like this, then I’m sure other cultural centers do similar events. You would have to check them out or you could bring it up as an idea and help others.
5. Mental Health Orgs
There is an org on campus called Active Minds. A friend of mine is in that org and he is always working on the events that they do. They facilitate events that help you relax or ones that talk about mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. If you reach out or attend any of the events that catch your eye, then it will be easier to talk about what you’re going through and thus it will help you see a light at the end of the tunnel and you’ll know that everything you’ve accomplish is because you did it.
There are going to be people in your life that try to put you down, but there will also be people that will continuously bring you up and remind you that you belong. Some days you won’t be able to see yourself as worthy of belonging. Other days, you’ll feel ready to crush the world and come out on top. Working through imposter syndrome is tough and going to take time. It’s been years and I’m still working through it, but once I had a name for what I was going through, it was easier to manage. I believe in y’all, and I’m sure you will come out the victor.