Impostor Syndrome

I often wonder how many students at Williams suffer from Impostor Syndrome, AKA feeling like you somehow aren’t smart enough or qualified enough to be here. I would venture to guess that a lot of Williams students feel, or have felt that way at some point during their time here. What about the college’s culture and environment creates and perpetuates these feelings? Maybe we all take ourselves too seriously? Maybe we have nothing to do with it, but rather it is born from increasing societal/ capitalistic pressures? I have no answers or nuanced perspectives, but I do wish all of us Ephs would be more open to talking about the reality and plight of impostor syndrome here on campus and beyond.

3 thoughts on “Impostor Syndrome

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  1. As the new semester is starting, I think that it’s a really good time to reflect on this! In my seminars, I’ve noticed that there have been long silences as everyone tries to formulate their perfectly crafted answers to make their best, smartest first impression. It makes the room feel stuffy and gives off an air of intimidating intelligence. Why can’t discussion be more free-form, with fewer monologues and more people clarifying on people’s points and asking questions? Professors should encourage this more casual (for lack of a better word) discussion. It would help with imposter syndrome because it would give all people with ideas the space to speak without needing to have the pedantic language.

    1. This is a great idea! I’ve definitely been too intimidated to contribute much in one or two of my classes so far…. I hope my classes are able to open up quickly; they were so much more enjoyable first semester once that happened!

  2. I definitely think there’s a lot of impostor syndrome at Williams! Part of it is probably the environment of high achievement and work ethic here, but I think another factor is the elite nature of Williams in itself. I don’t want to fall prey to Little Ivy elitism, but there’s no question that the student body here is composed of very highly achieving people, people who have never been satisfied with just being “good enough,” who are always striving to pass more tests and be the best. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are more susceptible to impostor syndrome than the general population.

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