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Overcoming the #ABD Imposter Syndrome

masks-before-computer-cartoonI came across a great article today at the ABD Survival Guide that talks about overcoming the feeling that you are an imposter. This has been one of my biggest struggles in the PhD process. I constantly tell myself, “You aren’t smart enough to get a PhD,” “You don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said…way better than you could say it,” if they find out the real you, they’ll regret having admitted you into the program.” The self-beratement continues ad nauseam.

Here are two quotes from the article that helped me greatly1 that helped me greatly:

Do you feel in constant need of rehearsal, yet never ready to go on stage? Are you putting off finishing your lit review until you have read everything under the sun on your topic? Consider this reframe: “A good knowledge base is important, but it is unrealistic for me to try to learn everything about the subject.” After all, your dissertation is your first book–not your life’s masterpiece. Keep a growth mindset here.

Your new motto: “The learning journey never ends.”

Before you drop from overwhelm, see how these reframes work for you:

“I can honor my desire to do many things well, but I do not need to do it all simultaneously.”

“Just because a person can do it does not mean that she must do it.”

We get sucked into perfection because we imagine that it will protect us from feelings of vulnerability, notes Brown: “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” Authenticity is messier, but it’s a lot more sustainable.

Your new motto: “Letting go is liberating.”

  1. the article was written by Eva Ross, Ed.D. and Gayle Scroggs, Ph.D. []

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