Imposter Syndrome and Chill

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As this is the ~internet~, I tend not to discuss things on here unless I’m in a better place or I’ve overcome it somehow. So let’s talk about imposter syndrome.

Around this time last year, I made the decision regarding the MA course I was going to take in September. I was making a choice between Cardiff, where I would be mostly studying linguistics, and another university where I would be taking a course developing my language skills, studying literature and also a little bit of linguistics.

Weirdly, people had advised me against linguistics for years. I remember when applying for universities, knowing I wanted to study Spanish, that a lot of courses were titled Spanish and Linguistics. People would be like “Don’t study linguistics now, it’s too new, and you won’t be learning enough Spanish”.

When I was deciding between these two courses, other people I knew and whose opinions I respected continued to deter me from linguistics. They said I would prefer the other course because I love reading and literature so much. They said I’d be disadvantaged because I spent four years studying a foreign language, and not the English language.

I went with my gut and went to Cardiff. With severe imposter syndrome.

My application was accepted straight away. I went to my first class, which was about how we teach languages and the theory behind pedagogy. I learned so much in the space of two hours. I met people who had studied linguistics, but also people who had studied anthropology, and english literature, and people who had studied languages like me. I learned how to research, and I learned how to hold my own instead of hiding behind bigger voices and people who I could rely on to “take one for the team”.

I didn’t think I deserved to be there for a long time. I’d spend so much time working, treating every class like a job interview. What would give me the edge? What could I contribute that was insightful? How am I going to stand out against people who are being fast tracked to do PhDs next year?

Apparently you just have to be yourself or something profound like that. Also it turns out no one gives a hot diddly darn how other people are doing, really. So I just enjoyed what I was doing and rolled with it.

I may not be doing a PhD just yet, but I am presenting my research at a conference next week. I’m still flip-flopping between whether it was a fluke or if I have actually found my niche. Baby steps, right?

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