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My experience with imposter syndrome

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is ‘the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved because of one's own efforts or skills. It often involves feelings of self-doubt, and incompetence or feeling like a fraud despite your past experiences and successes.

My experience

While unfortunately a common struggle among people from all walks of life, it is something I have personally dealt with after joining the RVC. Despite wanting to be a vet for an extremely long time, when I finally got accepted into the RVC, after all the uncertainty about my A level results during lockdown, I was both excited and terrified. As much as I wanted it to happen, I hadn’t really expected to make it in, and although I was grateful, I was also immediately doubtful. I felt lucky as opposed to accomplished or successful, and it almost seemed too good to be true.

These feelings initially went away once I started. Having joined the RVC in 2020 on its gateway course, whilst most of my teaching was online, I still enjoyed the university experience and felt like I was genuinely doing well. I passed the gateway year with few problems and felt confident going into year one.

The problems started again during year one and year two where I currently am. As the content got harder, it became easier to fall behind and get lost. I began to feel inadequate compared to my peers who all seemed to be doing better than me. The gateway course gave me an amazing opportunity to study a degree I may not have otherwise been able to, but I felt insecure. As if I wasn’t as smart as the first years that didn’t need the gateway to get in. Even though I passed year one, these feelings hadn’t gone away by the start of year two. No matter how many people reassured me that I was a good student, that they were also struggling and that I can pass my exams, none of it felt true. To me getting this far felt like nothing but good luck and I wasn’t sure I deserved it.

How to deal with imposter syndrome

For me one of the ways I had to deal with imposter syndrome was identifying why I felt this way in the first place. As someone who had gotten through my GCSE’s, A ‘levels and the gateway year without too many issues, getting to year one and really struggling with the content wasn’t something I was used to. I was not at the top of my class during secondary school, but I always got the grades I needed to continue, and even though I passed year one it was a really close call. Moving into year two I began to feel even more out of my depth and like I wasn’t good enough.

Ultimately, I can’t expect myself to understand everything immediately. It’ll take effort, sometimes more effort than it would take other people. There will be things that I struggle with, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to be here. I didn’t get into vet school by accident or through sheer luck, but through genuine effort. I am sure that I will continue to struggle with feelings of inadequacy, and I will not be the only one, but I feel more comfortable now. It was important for me to realise that I wasn’t the only one struggling, and that if I felt my colleagues earned and deserved their spot here then what made me any different.

Written by: Yasmin Evans

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