Assembly Speaker, Dr Mark Fuller - Imposter syndrome
In our assembly, the sixth formers had the pleasure of being given some important insights on the topic of imposter syndrome by Dr Mark Fuller, an Outreach Coordinator & Ogden Science Officer expertising in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
He began his lecture explaining his journey into his research on this subject where he found that only 25% of females apply for a physics / higher science degree contradictory to the fact that on average females tend to excel compared to males based in science pre-university. It was after his debacle that he found the key underlying problem : Imposter syndrome.
With only around 60% of the audience aware of imposter syndrome, Dr Fuller began to explain that imposter syndrome is essentially “the crippling thought that people like us could not possibly triumph given what we know of ourselves, which holds us back from prospering further in our personal and professional life”. He added that people who experience imposter syndrome leave the possibility of success to others, because they do not seem to themselves to be anything like the sort of people we see celebrated around us. When faced with responsibility or prestige, they quickly become convinced that they are simply this: Impostors
After this explanation, Dr Fuller unfolded the root cause of why individuals experience imposter syndrome was down to “A hugely unhelpful picture of what other people are really like”. We feel like impostors, not because we are uniquely flawed but because we fail to imagine how deeply flawed everyone else must be beneath the ‘polished surface’. It is part of the human condition, he continued to explain, where because we know ourselves from the inside but only know others from the outside we're constantly aware of all our anxieties, doubts and idiocies. This heightened awareness causes us to doubt ourselves and our abilities inevitably leading to the feeling of imposter syndrome
To call it a syndrome is to downplay how universal this feeling is. A Ted Talk video revealed that even Albert Einstein himself experienced this feeling of fraudulence, where he described himself as an ‘involuntary swindler‘, that his work didn't deserve as much attention as it had received. Feelings of being an imposter were shown to be much more widely prevalent, confirmed after around 80% of the audience was shown to have felt this at some point in their lives.
It is through the ability to humanise others and understand that our feelings of anxiety and confusion are (the majority of the time) what others feel, is when we are able to combat imposter syndrome. Quoting the 16th century French philosopher Montaigne, "kings, philosophers and ladies all use the bathroom!” Dr Fuller emphasised that underneath the facade we polish ourselves with, we all have our own setbacks and failures that essentially make us human. It is through this understanding that we are able to build confidence, move forward and reach our full potential.
This lecture was truly eye opening especially for those of us who are prone to be experiencing these feelings in our day to day lives. Thank you to Dr Fuller for taking the time out to join us and educate us on this matter. I am positive all the students were very grateful for this insight on imposter syndrome which directly affects people of our age.
Sixth Form Senior Prefect