As a new junior transfer student, I came into UC Berkeley expecting to meet many people and make a whole roster of new friends. What I didn’t expect was that I would form an enemy after only a month of attending. Surprisingly, my new enemy was not the clubs who rejected me, professors who assigned too much work or the tiresome walks up the campus’s hills — my enemy was impostor syndrome.
Before transferring, I knew many students had experienced impostor syndrome. I’ve heard the impostor syndrome tales from Reddit posts and even continuing students. I thought, “That won’t happen to me!”
I was proven wrong. While a lovely email with streams of confetti congratulated me on my acceptance to UC Berkeley, my mind told me I didn’t belong here. From the start of Golden Bear Orientation to the day I sit here and write this, I ask myself if “I am Berkeley,” as the school’s mantra goes.
As I met people through campus classes and activities, so many questions starting with “why” flooded my mind. Why are they taking more units than me? Why don’t I have any internships to showcase on my resume? Why are they in more clubs and organizations than me? Why is their LinkedIn more impressive than mine?
With a campus full of intelligent minds, I cannot help but compare myself to others. Coming from community college, I never felt like an impostor because it was a generally accepted fact that everyone was taking their own path and at different paces. Here, I know I’m competing against some of the most qualified and knowledgeable individuals in the world, all of whom have similar goals to mine. It’s intimidating, to say the least.
Although I am not completely free of impostor syndrome, I try to remind myself that I attend this school for a reason. I didn’t work tirelessly to excel and put my best foot forward in community college just to have my name randomly picked out of a hat by UC Berkeley admission officers. If the school recognized my abilities, I should be able to as well.
If there’s one thing I have learned thus far only being a month in, it’s that everyone experiences impostor syndrome at one time or another. It doesn’t matter if you were valedictorian, a recruited varsity athlete or a published researcher in high school, we all experience moments of feeling like we don’t deserve or belong here. While I may think everyone is “ahead” of me, I recognize that I’m doing just fine on my own personal journey. There’s no need for me to rush through college to be where someone else is. After all, even Oski took his time.