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Imposter Syndrome: A Formidable Challenge for Some Young Women in College



College can be an overwhelming experience for many young women as they learn to balance work, school, and life in general. They may even find it difficult to fully invest in themselves and their academic and career pursuits, leading to feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. One of the most pervasive mental health issues college women face is known as imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a feeling of fraudulence in which individuals doubt their abilities, success, and qualifications. Despite any evidence to the contrary, someone struggling with imposter syndrome may continually feel inadequate and fear they are “faking it” in order to get ahead.


Young women are particularly prone to experiencing imposter syndrome, as they may have lower confidence due to outside pressure, and expectations that are unrealistic and potentially unhealthy. In college, young women are bombarded with messages of who they should be and what they should look like, creating a hostile environment that can further stoke their imposter syndrome. It’s no surprise then, that they feel overwhelmed and unprepared to handle the demands of college.


Young women who feel as though they can never live up to society’s expectations often suffer from what is known as the “imposter cycle”: feelings of anxiety and self-doubt lead to procrastination, which leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and despair. The individual may find themselves in a never-ending cycle of self-sabotage and anxiety, and this cycle only serves to further the feelings of inadequacy that are so prevalent in young women who are struggling with imposter syndrome.


Fortunately, there are strategies and methods to help break the imposter cycle and gain control of your mental health. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can help to bring clarity to a troubling situation and allow someone to better articulate their feelings and identify potential solutions. A college counselor, a therapist or emotional wellness coach can also provide valuable insight into the issue and offer tips on managing anxiety and self-doubt.


Finally, taking micro-steps by setting achievable goals, such as studying for an hour each day or finishing an assignment, can help individuals feel a sense of accomplishment and control in the face of the larger issue.And each small step adds up to bigger outcomes.


It’s important to remember that we all have unique skills and talents, and that no one should ever be ashamed or feel like they have to pretend to be something they are not.


Working through imposter syndrome takes courage, dedication, and persistence, but it can be done. Everyone has their own path to success, and for young women struggling with imposter syndrome, it’s important to remember that your individual strengths are what make you valuable.

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