Stop denying us our neuroses
The Griffin has a vivid memory of a walk with an editor of our past while at last year’s Association of Collegiate Press conference trip to San Francisco. This editor, whom we all looked up to and revered in every way, chatted with The Griffin; we talked about our career desires, the fears that are embedded in those dreams and the all-too-familiar concept of “imposter syndrome.”
It’s a rather sad common ground to find between two people; but, in that moment, realizing this person who emulated all we wanted to be was maybe a little like us gave us hope that we could be in their shoes someday. But this was underscored by their lack of confidence in their future and authority. If they’re still feeling it, will it always plague us, too? It was humbling and frightening all at once, just like imposter syndrome.
But, now, The Griffin is in the shoes of this editor of yesteryear, but less experienced, years younger, inches shorter and just as (if not more) unsure of ourselves because of it.
According to the National Library of medicine, “Imposter syndrome (IS) is a behavioral health phenomenon described as self-doubt of intellect, skills or accomplishments among high-achieving individuals.” It is also known to “disproportionately” effect said high-achievers as well as women.
The idea of imposter syndrome may be silly to some, if their minds automatically go to playing as an antagonizing crewmate in the hit game Among Us, or, more likely, a rambling of buzzwords sensationalized by TikTok. But these (rather rude) skeptics find this weak spot in you and weasel in, diminishing how we feel about ourselves and our abilities by denying the intensity and validity of our doubts. This magnifies the sense of anxiety and distrust in the self that comes with this mindset, and imposter syndrome–sufferers spiral even deeper into this hole of uncertainty. Think about what that does to someone’s confidence. They're making people who already question themselves start to question that questioning — it’s enough to drive a person mad.
We could use this space to argue why it’s not okay to invalidate people’s feelings, but The Griffin would like to assume that you, dear reader, are aware of that and would never do such a thing. Instead, we’d like to recognize these feelings that plague us all, particularly those of us that are students in a position of authority over our peers. We want to let you know that what you feel (anxiety over your capabilities) is real, but the message (that you have no capabilities) is not.
We’ve all been made fun of for letting out and “um” or a “like” when speaking — a mean habit of others that is a personal pet peeve of The Griffin. Those words slip when we don’t know what to say or while we need a moment to collect thought, and someone interjecting and poking fun (making us all the more flustered!) is just plain cruel. It’s a lot like when you already feel unworthy of what you have and someone goes out of their way to add to that, whether they know it’s salt in the wound or not.
We've been “mansplained” to, talked down to and outright ignored by people older, more entitled or of a different gender or background than us, behind closed doors and in front of the people we lead — it’s humiliating, and it takes quite a toll on the psyche when it becomes a casual recurrence.
After the humiliation comes frustration. You worked so hard to be in this position, but you’re met with resistance. All it takes is for one person to question your authority for this question to pop up in the back of your brain: “Why do I have to prove myself to these people?” It eats away at you and your confidence until you’re consumed by the desire to prove yourself at any opportunity, which is even more exhausting than being asked to at the drop of a hat.
As much as we wish we could, The Griffin can’t stop the imposter syndrome–y thoughts or protect you from the words of all the contemptuous folk out there. All we can do is reassure you in hopes that we can stop the cycle of doubt that these people and this syndrome enhance.
We like to remind ourselves quite often that this isn’t high school anymore, where Mom and Dad do your homework or run your campaign for student council. Someone chose you and trusted you to be of authority because you have worked for — and therefore earned — it; that alone should be the reassurance of your merit.
So kick your feet up on your desk like you belong there, because you do. We’ve all worked way too hard not to revel in it at least a little.