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Letter from the editor | May 20

Coping with Imposter Syndrome in a creative field

Speaker Peter Wilson presents on Imposter Syndrome at the 2017 WordCamp Auckland. Imposter Syndrome affects many people from all different backgrounds. // Photo courtesy of Kristarella via Flickr

Your teacher walks to the front of the class and smiles uneasily at the classroom. You know what’s coming before they say a thing.

“Great work on your projects everyone! Let’s share your work with the class.”

Your heart begins to race, quicker and quicker. You feel the nausea kick in and your breathing picks up. You glance around the classroom to try to detect even an ounce of the same panic in your peers’ reactions. They don’t even flinch – in fact, some seem…excited?

You weigh your options. 

Do you feign sickness? Do you go to the bathroom and hide there for the rest of class? No, then you look even weirder. You scramble to think of any excuse to get you out of this situation, but you’re too late. The teacher calls your name. You deflate and accept your fate.

You anxiously watch as your peers look at your work, awaiting the critiques. You can feel your face flush red and your ears get hot as you try your best to appear calm and collected. 

Someone shoots their hand up. Yay.

You spend the next few minutes pretending to be a good sport as the critiques come in, but all you want to do is run out of the room. You finally get to sit back down in your seat, but the overwhelming anxiety lingers. You now have to watch your peers present work that is bound to be better, bound to put yours to shame.

Anyone that couldn’t relate to that little anecdote, lucky you. 

Anyone that could relate, congrats! You might be suffering from Imposter Syndrome.

What is Imposter Syndrome, you might ask? 

Loosely defined, Imposter Syndrome is doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. 

According to an article written by Medical News Today, Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of job or social status, but high-achieving individuals often experience it the most. 

And according to a 2020 National Library of Medicine review, 9%-82% of people experience Imposter Syndrome, with many people experiencing symptoms for a limited time and others experiencing it throughout their lifetime. The study found the wide gap in percentage was dependent on the screening tool and cutoff used to assess symptoms and were particularly high among ethnic minority groups. 

This study also found that “Imposter syndrome is often comorbid with depression and anxiety and is associated with impaired job performance, job satisfaction and burnout among various employee populations.”

The first thing all that data tells us is that those of you that could relate to the anecdote above, are completely valid in what you’re feeling and going through. The second thing that data tells us is that you are also not alone in that feeling. 

Even though Imposter Syndrome can be an isolating feeling, we need to remember that most people will experience these feelings at some point in their life, even people you wouldn’t expect to. I’ve had the chance to learn with a group of students as we work through the classes required for the visual journalism major, and to my surprise, I have found almost every peer that I once thought judged me for being inferior felt the same way about their peers. 

It’s been interesting learning to cope with Imposter Syndrome in a creative field such as visual journalism, but it’s also taught me to be open about how I’m feeling, to communicate and to be kind to others regardless of how they portray themselves on the outside. 

I’m learning that life doesn’t always have easy solutions to problems, but it can be full of kindness and understanding as we all work through those problems together. 

I’ve had the privilege of working as a specialty editor for The Front for the past year and with my graduation approaching this spring, I just want to say thank you to all our readers for your support and engagement and for giving us the ability to work and grow in positions we love. 

Being an editor has instilled in me a confidence I doubt I would’ve acquired otherwise and has put me on a path I am proud of and excited for.

Take care,

Hannah Cross, spring ‘22 photo editor

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