Imposter Syndrome

Oxford

Elle Bennett

When I saw on UCAS that my place to study Law at Worcester College had been confirmed, I didn’t believe it. I had read in the newspaper the year before that sometimes there were mistakes and acceptances and rejections got sent to the wrong people. In fact, I was so sure it was a mistake that I phoned Worcester College on results day to see if I actually had been accepted.


I had first heard of imposter syndrome a year before this. My dad had heard about it on the radio and thought it summed me up. Every time I achieved something, I thought it was a fluke and it led to me overworking because I was convinced that I wasn’t as capable as the people around me. This feeling multiplied by 1000 when I arrived at university! By the time I got to the end of my first term, I was a bit of a state. I had been working constantly, thinking I needed to work so much harder than everybody around me to get anywhere close to their level. Every time I received a lower mark on an essay or got something wrong, my stomach would drop. I felt like my worst fears were confirmed.


It got to the point where I left for the Christmas vacation and didn’t think I would be returning in January. I decided to go back and take it one week at a time. The thing that turned it around for me was speaking to the other students and my tutors. I had been so stuck in the library that I had isolated myself completely. It turned out that so many people around me felt similarly, they were just coping with it better. I had a meeting with my tutor, who told me he had felt the same way when he started university.


Every day, I still think I’m not good enough to be at Oxford. Every day, I have to remind myself that there is no evidence to prove that whatsoever. Most importantly, I would like to remind anyone reading this that they aren’t alone in feeling like their achievements are just down to luck. I promise talking about it will make it so much better.

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