You see no one told me that at the age of twenty-two, I would be faced with one of the biggest challenges of my life. At the age of sixteen our biggest struggle is learning how to drive. At seventeen trying to figure out what colleges to apply to, and from 18-21 we live in a world that is fueled by our new-earned freedom and independence.
As a twenty-two year old, I sit here being faced one of the most important and mind-spinning decisions of my life: How do I exist knowing that I am good enough?
Impostor Syndrome is the psychological phenomenon that occurs when individuals of similar characteristics are exposed to the reality that their existence is parallel to others. Symptoms like anxiety, withdrawal, and isolation all come with this interesting yet hard-to-study experience that oddly enough most everyone goes through.
There will be days I ask myself: Am I doing what I am meant to do? Am I going through this process right? What is so-and-so doing? I bet they are having a different experience. Impostor Syndrome thrives on the human's innate ability to compare the self to the environment it is in. If there is even one little discrepancy, the mind converts it into anxiety attempting to navigate something that we solely need to just deal with.
So why is Impostor Syndrome so important? Because odds are you experienced it once before. Those odds are pretty much as strong as they will be. The real reason though: Take a look around you and see what people could accomplish if they had the resilience to stop comparing themselves to the relative "star" in their discipline. Be you. Be strong. And stop second guessing your ability to succeed. You are here because you deserve it.
If I said that this semester was not the hardest one I have ever encountered in my life, I would be lying. Not because the material or grading is any more difficult than I have experienced before, but because of the fact that I am learning things that I will use to address students as a professional, and that is something that both excites and scares me.
Take the three classes I had this semester: Master's Seminar, History of American Higher Education, and Higher Education Policy. Master's Seminar focused on writing and learning about the foundations of Critical Theory as it relates to the issues and problems facing Higher Education today. History of American Higher Education forced us to think critically about the history of higher education through an intersectional lens of DisCrit, the intersection of disability and Critical Race Theory. Finally, Higher Education Policy focused on learning about the very policies and procedures that impact, have impacted, and will impact the future of post-secondary learning (looking at you HEA Reauthorization).
These three classes, all very different from each other, all managed to speak to my practitioner-based mind as well as my scholarly mind. To be honest, I never really felt like that would happen. Here it is mid-December and I am finally giving into the magic that this graduate program has. We have a lot of work to do as college administrators in the next coming decades. We better get some rest and be ready to fight because this new era of post-secondary education is coming and we are looking to take it into the hands of something greater, something better, and something that will truly and inclusively support our students.