Growing up I remember hearing quite often from both my parents and my teachers that “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly”. I believed this statement for many years and tried my best to live by it. As a result I’ve always been a perfectionist afraid of losing face. What if someone found out that I’m not really that smart? What if I accidently said something stupid.

Entering the academic world did not make things better. My first year as a graduate student was filled with fear that I had been accepted mistakenly. I was completely convinced that everyone was a gazillion times smarter than me. Since I had a pretty flawless academic track record and never really had experienced any real defeats, I started questioning why I felt this way and did some online research. It appears that ambitious females, who always strive to be perfect are very prone to experiencing the “impostor syndrome”. This is a constant feeling that you’re not good enough and basically don’t deserve to be where you are. That your achievements are due to luck rather than skill combined with a constant nagging fear that someone will blow your cover. Reading statements from other women experiencing the same feeling immediately made me feel more at ease. I wasn’t alone with this sense of inferiority. I learned several lessons from this soul searching, and I’d love to share them with you.

Lesson #1: Never compare your own beginning to others’ advancements. They are bound to be smarter or at least more experienced than you if they have been in the game for 10 years longer than you have. Instead, you should picture what they were like when they were at your stage. Were they smarter then, than you are today? Not necessarily.

Lesson #2: If you think you can’t, you can’t. If you think you can, you can. Basically, if you don’t believe in yourself chances are others won’t either and you won’t succeed. Trust that you can do it and tell this to yourself every day.

Lesson #3: The best weapon against the “impostor syndrome” is to actually list all your achievements, be it at work, in school, or while self-studying Korean. Are they all due to pure luck? Or was it your own hard work that made a difference? Realize that it is probably the latter and give yourself credit! Pull out this list whenever you start to feel insecure and remind yourself of all your amazing achievements.

Lesson #4: Learn to screw up! This is by far the hardest, but I’m getting better at it. Learning Korean has actually helped me a lot in this process. I soon realized that if I were to ever learn Korean, I couldn’t start out sounding fluent. On countless occasions I’ve made Koreans laugh because I’ve switched the syllables in words giving them a completely different meaning – or none at all. I’ve mixed native and sino-Korean numbers, I’ve used honorifics to a 12-year old, I’ve said “sightseeing”, when I meant “browsing”, and I’ve loved every minute because I’ve learned so much in the process.

Lesson #5: Don’t overthink anything!

Click on the link below and see if you recognize the situation ^^

Itchy Feet: A Travel and Language Comic: Overthinking It.

I’ll finish off this post by introducing a new quote by my motivational mentor, Brian Tracy: If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly at first. Don’t be afraid to try!

2 Comments »

  1. Hvor er det rart at se dét på skrift. Jeg har kæmpet med det samme – særligt da jeg startede min første kandidatgrad. Det blev nok ikke bedre af, at jeg var den yngste på holdet (jeg var 21 men gennemsnitsalderen nærmere 26). Den der konstante nagende fornemmelse, hvor man bare venter på, at der kommer en og prikker én på skulderen for at spørge om man ikke er gået forkert. Da jeg fik problemer med at finde et nyt sted at bo efter første juleferie overvejede jeg decideret at droppe ud og bare flytte hjem igen. Det, som slog hovedet på sømmet for mig var, at mens jeg havde et møde med min programme director (som var ret uforstående overfor mine faglige bekymringer) ventede min mor et andet sted på instituttet (hun havde været med på boligjagt), hvor hun blev spurgt af en forbipasserende prof om hun behøvede hjælp til noget, da hun jo ikke lignede en studerende. Det viste sig at være en af mine professorer, som var flink nok til at benytte lejligheden til at rose mig for at være ret skarp. Imens sad jeg så i et mødelokale og var mere eller mindre overbevist om, at jeg måtte have fået en istap i hovedet i et uopmærksomt øjeblik i løbet af den svenske vinter… Selv jeg kunne se, at der var et eller andet, der ikke passede sammen, da jeg sammenholdt de to professorers udtalelser med mine egne forestillinger. Det er egentlig underligt, at det er sådan for så mange.

    Koreanske fejl… Vi har alle været der, de er uundgåelige og helt okay 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Efter at have læst din blog i flere måneder, overrasker det mig ikke at du har (haft) det på samme måde. Hvis man er ambitiøs, hårdtarbejdende og kvinde, så er man i højrisikozonen for at føle at man aldrig rigtig slår til. Det lader i det hele taget til at vi har utrolig meget tilfælles 🙂
    Her på uni har jeg sammen med et par andre kvindelige kolleger stiftet en uformel forening, hvor vi mødes en gang om måneden og bekræfter hinanden i at vi er mindst lige så dygtige som vores mandlige kolleger. Allerførste gang vi mødtes havde vi netop diskussionen om “the impostor syndrome” på dagsordenen og alle genkendte følelsen.
    Det gælder om at minde sig selv om alle sine sejre, når man tvivler, og du har bestemt mange i bagagen! 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s