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Imposter syndrome of the absolute worst degree

| Monday, February 28, 2022

How can I feel less ordinary in such an extraordinary place? 

Look — I’m just going to come out and say it straight. Sometimes, (all the time) it is hard for me to feel like I am qualified enough to be at such a prestigious university surrounded by thousands of the world’s most exceptional people. 

Every time that I think I’m starting to do life semi-correctly, one of my friends or peers does something insane. This applies to all aspects of life here too. It’s like you can never catch a break. 

Oh, I got a 92 on my exam? My roommate got a 100 in this class as a freshman! I’m a varsity athlete at a Division I school? My teammates were just in the Olympics! I learned to play piano? Dude next to me in class wrote a symphony when he was 15! 

So even if I can get past the fact all the people I surround myself with are either Olympic athletes, super geniuses, the Beethovens of our generation, entering the NFL draft, supermodels, verified on Instagram, profiting off of their own start up or already have a career lined up post graduation, what does that mean for me? 

And before we move on, do not even get me started on LinkedIn. Every time I open that app I’m reminded of just how behind I seem to be in planning the rest of my life. How am I supposed to feel like I’m doing alright for myself when every person here has had a salaried internship for this summer figured out and a job secured in their dream city since freshman year summer. There was a point in my life where, when my alarm would go off in the morning, I would immediately check LinkedIn to make me feel just bad enough about myself and my lack of personal accomplishment that I would be more motivated to get up and go to my 8 a.m. And let me tell you, if you’re looking for some sort of morning motivation, that one works every. single. time.

Anyways, there’s truly something to be said about how you become who you surround yourself with. Being a part of this University has opened my eyes to opportunities I didn’t even know existed. Being immersed in so many different types of greatness is something that I will never take for granted. No matter how grateful I am, it is still so #[email protected]!%&* difficult. 

I’m not saying it’s “oh this sucks” difficult either. I’m saying it feels like I am not even nearly qualified enough to be a member of this community. It feels like I do not belong here no matter how hard I try. It feels like I shouldn’t even be allowed to attend this University. It feels like I am just taking up the space of someone else who could be doing much better in my exact same position. It feels like I’m letting down everyone around me. No matter how much time I put in or how many flashcards I make, I might never get a 100. No matter how many times I give my all at practice, I’m never going to the Olympics. No matter how many hobbies and talents I try to acquire, I’m not winning America’s Got Talent. 

It took me a long while to realize that the reality is this: somebody else’s beauty does not imply the lack of mine. Beauty can be replaced in this sentence with success, intelligence, etc. Doesn’t matter. The point is that you can be surrounded by greatness and be just as great. Comparison is the thief of happiness and pride.

I know that you have all probably heard that before, and it takes some serious self reflection to start believing it for yourself, but it’s so true. You are here in the tri-campus of the University of Notre Dame and you worked your a** off to get here. Be proud of yourself! You’re already doing something right, and just because your peers are also doing amazing things doesn’t mean you’re doing everything wrong. 

You’re going to be fine. You are already here. You do belong here. You are just as qualified as everyone else. Just keep trying your best. You are smart, creative, inspiring, talented and thoughtful. You don’t have to have your whole entire life figured out right now. You don’t have to be a captain or a president or a dean’s list member to validate your worth. Stop comparing yourself to people who also don’t have everything figured out. I promise you that even all of these extraordinary people are struggling too. Stop categorizing yourself as ordinary, you owe yourself so much more than that.

Olivia Fabry 


Feb. 24

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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