Imposter Syndrome: the “unknown phenomenon” to Trinity Students

Laila Banerjee discourages you from reading this article because surely it’s unrelatable…. Right?

Now that I’ve roped you into reading this, (because everyone loves doing the opposite of what they’re told) I’ll have to make sure you enjoy this piece or at least relate to it slightly. I have honestly never been very good at conveying what I really want or even being able to talk to people for that matter. 

I only realised this when I came to college. So do forgive me if you find this repetitive, boring or odd.

“I came to college expecting my life to be much like every lead in a teen movie who fits right in”

I came to college expecting my life to be much like every lead in a teen movie who fits right in. I expected myself to find both comfort and excitement as soon as I stepped foot in Trinity. Let’s just say it wasn’t quite like that. For one, I barely remember my first day at Trinity and it was only my second day in Ireland. 

The first week at college, however, is always exciting. You meet tons of people, make small talk and move on (never to see them again). It is usually these seven days that can be most misleading.  One day you’re at a speed-friending event and the next you’re trying to convince the film society why Kung Fu Panda is a masterpiece. You’re sitting at the Pav with a pint in your hand wondering why everyone complains about adulthood so much when it’s so wonderful and freeing. 

For me, that dreamy aspect of adult life began to fade in my second week of classes. I was suddenly bombarded with tons of assignments and readings I didn’t understand. The 30 friends that I made so easily came down to about 5. Barely any of my friends were from my course so there were times I would eat lunch all by myself while seeing large groups of friends around me. I admit, it did feel lonely. Honestly, I completely blame my school friends for this. You see, I went to boarding school at 9, met my best friend at 11, and lived with a large group of rowdy yet the most affectionate girls till about 19. I practically grew up with them. I had become too used to that comfort and friendship. 

Adjusting to a whole new life and making new sets of friends seemed difficult and quite frankly intimidating. I felt like I wasn’t fitting in and that’s all I really wanted, to fit in. I was worried about being judged. I joined many societies but barely attended any events because I didn’t want to seem odd or weird. This is not a drab sob story. The self-pity had to stop at some point. I eventually started putting in the effort to communicate more. I think I’ve figured it out better in my second year. So I will lay it out for you if you’re looking to make a friend or two.

“Just start by introducing yourself. There will always be something to talk about after that”

Once you join a society, attend their events and participate in competitions. Don’t worry about looking stupid, we’ve all been there. If not at an event tomorrow, you will find your kind of people at an event in a month from now. Don’t worry about what to say. Just start by introducing yourself. There will always be something to talk about after that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to go out every night. All I’m saying is that go to events you think you may enjoy. If you join societies that interest you, you’ll always have something to talk about. We exhaust ourselves and sometimes don’t even enjoy the outing.  

At this point, you probably want to stop reading this because it’s advice you’ve heard before. Try it, trust me. It does work! I’m not an expert. I still have friends I could count on my fingers but meeting people has given me more perspective and made me more confident. You don’t have to hang out with them every day of your life but at least you had a large pint and a nice laugh for the night. Enjoy what you have now. We never actually give the present credit for how nice it is. We feel nostalgic about the past and hope for a nice future. We just love to hate the present. The most important lesson I’ve learnt about friendship is to never compare different relationships with each other. The relationship with your friends from back home will be very different from those in college. You’re meeting different people so stop searching for the same friendship. 

“College is an extremely electrifying yet humbling experience”

If you look at most people and think they’re living their best life, think twice. Everyone is battling adulthood at this point. College is an extremely electrifying yet humbling experience. If it’s not about relationships then it’s about academics, internships and extracurriculars. I don’t think I’ve ever been rejected from jobs and other opportunities as much as I have in college. It was difficult to grasp those rejections. I suddenly felt and knew I was not the best at most things I did. There was always someone better. This led me to question if I deserved to be at Trinity at all. My grades and my confidence were struggling. There were days I felt overwhelmed and exhausted. There was never a moment when I was sitting idle. Although, by the end of the week I would feel unproductive. 

If you haven’t experienced this yet then I’m pretty impressed. Although, if you have, just know that you’re not alone. My experiences at college have taught me to be patient. Rejections do sting but there are always more opportunities coming your way. You tried and that’s all that really matters. Whatever your aim is, don’t give up but also, don’t let the end goal devour you. It is ok to slow down sometimes. Take a break. Go out with your friend and get a pint every once in a while. If you don’t have anyone to grab a pint with, you’ll always see a little lost girl with messy short hair (me) strutting around campus, you could always come up and say hi.