Illustrated by Abigail Dannatt

Imposter Syndrome

Suppose you’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy, being unable to accept compliments, or even feeling like you’re manipulating everyone into…

Suppose you’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy, being unable to accept compliments, or even feeling like you’re manipulating everyone into thinking you’re a better person. In that case, there’s a high chance you may have had imposter syndrome.

Personally, I grew up with an undiagnosed learning disorder, so I was always told I wasn’t good enough, or that I was lazy and didn’t care, by my teachers and peers. Now that I have a diagnosis, I’m learning to cope and perform better academically and socially, but those feelings of laziness and inadequacy never fade away.


There’s no blood test or scan that can be done to figure out if you have imposter syndrome, however, having a lot of the symptoms can indicate that you need to discuss it further with a doctor, counsellor, or psychiatrist.

  • Anxiety – feelings of unease, fear, and worry, often mixed with physical symptoms such as sweating, accelerated heart rate, and irritability.
  • Not trusting your personal capabilities – this could present as having to check even the smallest decisions with others, refusing to make important decisions, and getting other people to do tasks that you have done before in the past.
  • Comparing yourself to others – you could compare your grades to other people, your appearance, and even your hobbies.
  • Lack of self-confidence – perhaps you’re overly critical of things you do, or you’re unable to believe people when they give you compliments.
  • Focusing on the past – we’ve all made mistakes in the past and done things we shouldn’t have, but if you’re continuously focusing on these it may become an issue and prevent you from growing and learning.
  • Feeling inadequate – it’s normal to have occasional feelings of inadequacy, but if you’re suffering from imposter syndrome you may always feel inadequate, which can lead to you giving up on opportunities that are presented to you.

My experience

Before I realised I had imposter syndrome, I genuinely believed that I was just inferior to most people and that it wasn’t in my DNA to fit into this world. I would cheat myself out of job opportunities or extra-curricular that I could have used to improve my CV, in fact, I spent the better part of my undergraduate degree doing nothing but the bare minimum to get by, worried that if I tried to do anything more I’d just let myself, and everyone else, down.

It wasn’t until I started therapy in late 2020 that I began to realise that the imposter syndrome had been sabotaging me and holding me back. After about 8 months in therapy, I tried getting a job again, and I’ve been in employment ever since. It took a long time to realise that I was far more capable than I thought, and I often had to fake confidence in myself, but it paid off. The more I did these things, the more I proved to myself that I was capable of having a job, and I was capable of doing well at uni.

Where to get help

There are many places in Lincoln where you can get help, either on campus, from the NHS, or privately.

  • Student Wellbeing offers counselling services and they can signpost you in the right direction if you need further help. You can attend a drop-in session or book an appointment.
  • Steps2Change is Lincolnshire’s NHS mental health service, and you can self-refer using an online form or over the phone. They can offer services such as individual counselling, group counselling, telephone/online appointments, and other help for mild/moderate mental health conditions.
  • NW Counselling Hub is a private counselling service based at the end of Monks Road, however, they work with a local charity to offer free counselling sessions for those on a low income – I personally used them in 2020 and the process was quick and easy, and I got a total of 12 fully funded sessions! They also offer student discounts.
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