When things get tough and I feel completely lost, I tend to look at others who seem to know what they’re doing and try to mirror them. Fake it ’til you make it right?
Impostor syndrome hit me from the first day I started in MAT157 (aka the hardest first year math course you could take). When the TA told us that he himself would’ve ran out of this course on the first day if he took MAT157, I started worrying that I stayed in the course two weeks, too long.
Fake it ’til you make it?
Yes, but real work needs to be done behind the scenes for the show to become reality.
I recently read the swanky new U of T Magazine and came across this quote that I took to heart:
I remind myself that I can probably con one person, I can probably con three people. But conning an entire university? That’s just not possible. So if that’s true, then I must be as good as they say I am – Joel West, U of T Alum
Intuition is my best friend. A friend that I neglected when trying to pretend to be someone I was not ready to be yet. Pretending to have everything together made me feel like I was putting a band-aid on something I really should take care of. We all know a good cookie the first bite that we take. I believe that by focusing on solidifying a good foundation in university, I stopped superficially feeling smart. It has allowed me to identify what I’m good at and what needs to be worked on. Don’t you hate it when a cookie looks good but doesn’t taste like what you expected?
“When in doubt, don’t go out”
With the right mixture of “I think” and “I know”, listening to my gut has proved fruitful on more than one occasion:
- When crossing the road, I wait until I think it’s safe to cross. Even with a traffic light, I still wait until I’m 100% sure it’s safe.
- In a lab, just because everyone else throws things down the sink, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do (It’s 2018! NOTHING goes down the sink except water). I always ask my TAs first. I’d rather look silly for a minute than have a lab blow up (I’d probably look a lot more silly if that were to happen).
- In rowing, I was unsure about the water traffic rules or routes for the longest time, so I let someone else be in charge when steering the boat. When in doubt, don’t go out (into the abyss that is Lake Ontario).
- In class, just because the person next to me doesn’t take notes, doesn’t mean what the professor is saying is frivolous. It might not be new knowledge to them, but it might for me (I’ve learned not to be ashamed of that).
I am a tough cookie – and like all good homemade cookies, it takes time to get it right.