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Yacine Mahdid
Yacine Mahdid

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My Experience with the Impostor Syndrome

I've just read this wonderful article about the "impostors-advantage" terminology to described people with the "Impostor Syndrome": The Impostor Syndrome

I used to struggle with Imposter Syndrome a lot when I first started my undergraduate at McGill in Anatomy and Cell Biology. I didn't speak English very well at all, so the feeling of being out of place was very strong. I remember one day during my first year, feeling brave, I've raised my hand to ask a question in a fully packed 700+ student organic chemistry auditorium. I've mumbled my way through the question so bad that the teacher was startled for a moment and then moved on with her class.

However, at some point something switched in my head. I was telling myself "I already clearly don't belong here, I might as well push harder". Messing something up and making mistakes were a fact of life at that point, so I took more and more chances and tried stuff out.

Whenever I had a question I knew it was a dumb one so I thought myself "Might as well ask it now" and raised my hand. If something didn't make sense, I said it aloud and asked the teacher to explain it more, outing myself as a slow student. If I didn't understand why I got point removed in an exam I would go straight to the teacher office and argue my point. I constantly had the feeling that the teachers body knew I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed so letting them down wasn't a big deal.

Fast-forward to my graduation and I've made the Dean's Honour List in Neuroscience taking 13 credit more than I had to because I genuinely was interested by the classes and worked in three different research labs to pursue my passion.

Making peace with the fact that it is OK to suck at something and that it is the natural process of learning is what freed me from the Impostor Syndrome and led me to use it as an advantage:

"That feeling of being an impostor is your subconscious telling you something: It’s saying you’re about to push yourself past your comfort zone and into the growth zone."

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