The Truth Behind Feeling Like A Fraud


Letting the backpack straps slip off my shoulders, I settle into my seat for my third period AP Chemistry class. Slightly — no, very delusional from the kinematics equations I had just been introduced to in my physics class beforehand, I begin discussing how the college application process has been going with my senior classmates. The bell rings, marking the start of the period, and I exhale a deep sigh of uneasiness.


Welcome to my first day of junior year.


Frequently termed the “hardest” year of high school, 11th grade is immersed with challenges, from AP classes, SAT exams, and one final push for extracurricular activities. All of a sudden, students begin looking beyond high school — finalizing dream schools, particular majors, and possible careers.


And then there was me. A bit lost, stressed, and confused — all at the same time. 


Fears swarmed my mind. What are my plans? Am I behind? Do I even know what realm of study I hope to pursue in college?


Being a person of many passions has always been a double-edged sword. While I have found many paths of interest, I have also been left perplexed on several occasions as to what I actually aspire to work toward past high school, and more importantly, what specific impacts I yearn to leave behind on the world. 


This often left behind doubt, even though I have always been a hard worker. While certain concepts do not come to me naturally, I have found value in challenging myself to struggle and work through difficult subjects. Yet, having heard so many dismal anecdotes about failed classes, towering stacks of homework, and rigorous testing schedules, I was very nervous about my junior year. In the weeks prior to the school year beginning, I began feeling as though my classes might be a bit too much for me to manage, or that I wasn’t “good enough” to even be in those classes in the first place. In particular, taking AP Chemistry as the sole junior in a class of seniors made me feel already lackluster and quite honestly, dumb. It left me with plenty of self-doubt and uncertainty — a phenomenon scientists have termed impostor syndrome.


According to Forbes, an estimated 70% of the global population has experienced impostor syndrome, the fear that you are a fraud and that you do not belong somewhere or deserve something. I think my personal experience with impostor syndrome, while frustrating, has also been one of the most rewarding situations I have ever endured. I have come to evolve a sincere appreciation for both my abilities and my weaknesses.


Junior year came to an unexpected but rewarding end last June. I wrapped up my classes online and most of my final exams were canceled. I drew on online tools and virtual office hours to tackle and comprehend complex end of the year topics. I grew as a student from learning alongside incredibly intelligent seniors and peers my own age. I realized that every single one of us has our unique goals, and that our journeys towards accomplishing those goals cannot be compared against one another.


Slowly but surely, I also began unearthing my future path. I realized that I could envision myself studying both international relations and chemistry in college. I began imagining a life as a physician practicing medicine without borders in mind, aiding those who need it most in places most impacted by turbulent health crises. I perceived that all I needed to do was give myself time. Time to experience. Time to discover. Time to be myself and explore everything and anything available to me.


Impostor syndrome has also given me so much value in motivating and uplifting my friends and classmates. Whether it be helping my friends think of college essay topics for hours over FaceTime, or bombarding them with “CONGRATS” messages followed by twenty exclamation points whenever something exciting happens, I have loved watching the joy and sense of self-worth I can impart on others. Even a simple text can truly brighten someone’s day and remind them of their importance in my life. I find that pretty incredible.


Much is termed fraudulent in our society, whether that be fake handbags, fake news, or fake people. As humans in a collective societal network, I think we all deserve to give ourselves more credit. Even in the midst of a raging pandemic in a country bursting with partisan divisiveness and racial tension, we are here today, taking every day at a time. That warrants some merit. Let’s leave the impostors to the game Among Us, and continuously remind ourselves that we are original, worthy individuals.