Imposter Syndrome – Part Two

Today I had an interesting experience.

Back when I first started my PhD and met some resistance from my colleagues and work supervisors (at the time – I now have a different job) I internalized the weird reactions. I thought it was me. But guess what? It isn’t about me at all.

I’ve discovered that most reactions to the news that I am working on a PhD have more to do with the person they are coming from than they have to do with me. Working towards such a lofty goal places a mirror in front of others – and they don’t always like what they see. Living and working in Vancouver, it isn’t uncommon to be surrounded by colleagues who are far more intelligent and educated than I am. I’m comfortable with not being the smartest person in the room. Back when I started this journey, I was a small town country girl who spent my free time playing in dirt with horses. A bachelor’s degree seemed like a lofty goal. The thought of doing a PhD had never even crossed my mind. These days, I am often shocked to realize that I do have thoughts and ideas to contribute that are valuable and these are respected, even though I am still learning and furthering my knowledge every day. For me, this academic journey is about personal growth as much as it is about education and achievement. The end product is just a bonus.

So this is what I learned during a meeting today:

  • Know that you know a lot about some things but you don’t know everything
  • Be humble
  • Be kind
  • Give credit where credit is due
  • Remember that everyone has something to teach you
  • You also have so much to teach those around you
  • Sometimes it will feel like everything is a disaster – and this too shall pass
  • Did I say be humble?

I’m so grateful for this awesome journey. So much of it is about what you learn along the way and how it changes you, not what you get at the end. Although I do want that funny hat…


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