Imposter syndrome hits close to home, and I'd like to be more involved in this kind of stuff. So here are my 50 ideas:
50 Ways to Solve Imposter Syndrome
1. Say to myself, "I have imposter syndrome, but I am not an imposter."2. Write encouraging messages on sticky notes and place them in places I will see.3. Pretend I AM an imposter and make a game out of deceiving my peers.4. Smile to myself as I write my stupid ideas into a scientific looking paper, because everyone will just eat it up.5. Remind myself that research and papers aren't just something I happen to do, they are part of who I am. I am a researcher and a paper writer.6. Call a parent or someone who believes in me, and ask them what they think of what I do.7. Talk to strangers and tell them about my work.8. Read previous papers I've written, and tell myself what's good about them.9. Read previous papers I've written, and critique them, so that I can see how far I've come in my skills and intuitions for this field.10. Read papers someone else has written in this field, and write down what I would do differently or better.11. Pretend I'm some other researcher that I know of, and imagine that they have imposter syndrome too, and write down their anxieties and fears.12. Talk to my pet, or get a pet. I'm smarter than this cat, aren't I? This cat would REALLY have messed this up.13. Pretend I'm someone smarter, and do the work while pretending to be them.14. Write down a list of any specific failings or anxieties I have in this area. Is there anything I actually don't know or can't do that my imposter syndrome is feeding off of? Make those fears concrete.15. Address the items on my list with actionable tasks that I can do to work on my weaknesses. Read that paper that I skipped, learn that formula I never quite got, etc.16. Post something on reddit about having imposter syndrome and let the encouragements roll in.17. Make a really simple to do list of the next five things I need to do to accomplish this.18. Make a list of things that I would expect from this project so that it doesn't suck, and then try to make sure it doesn't suck.19. Write down a list of all my gut wrenching fears about this, and then write a counterpoint list that directly states the opposite of every fear as a personal mantra, and repeat those statements to myself every day.20. Pick a class that I did well in at some point, and spend some time fondly remembering how well I did.21. Make a list of my classmates/peers that I think I'm better than.22. Pick someone in my field who is only a LITTLE bit better than me, and state why. Then make a plan for what I can do to surpass them.23. Buy something for myself that makes me feel like a person who does what I do -- some sort of prop that represents my valid identity.24. Go talk to a professor/advisor, and tell them about what I'm experiencing. Record the conversation since they'll probably give me encouragement and advice.25. Explain what I'm working on to a rubber ducky or something with equivalent intelligence, to help me work through what I'm thinking about.26. Pick a paper/project that has a worse premise than mine and remind myself that mine will at least be better than that.27. Remind myself that this process of struggling is part of the growth that will turn me into what I want to be, and it's okay if I'm not there yet.28. Take a break and spend some time with some friends.29. Get drunk or do drugs and work on the paper while intoxicated.30. Play loud music or white noise into some headphones and work, to cut out some of that internal chatter.31. Write a fictional story about myself overcoming these obstacles.32. Exercise and work when I'm exhausted.33. Get some actual sleep for once.34. Eat some better food.35. Try NOT drinking or doing drugs, if I'm doing those things already.36. Browse popular media or forums where laypeople discuss the field I'm in, and shake my head at how little they know.37. Go to therapy.38. Look for other available mental health resources, and get some help already.39. Talk to a friend about how hard things are, and for once try NOT being an imposter and just being myself. Let my barriers down for a bit.40. Cry. Figure out some way to make myself cry if I can't cry.41. Write a fictional conversation between myself and one of my idols in this field, and imagine the sort of things they would say to me to help.42. Get well-groomed and dressed up like I'm on a date or something. Make myself feel good about my appearance and let those good feelings propagate to my overall sense of self.43. Do that thing from that one TED talk where you pose in a position of power, with your arms up superman style. Body language affects your self-perception.44. Record encouraging statements and listen to them.45. Design business cards with my current title on them.46. Get a tattoo that has something to do with my field of research. Now I'm really committed.47. Pick a special physical space that I do work in that feels important and intellectual, and separate my personal life from work life by only working there.48. Make a "study group" of peers and work on our projects together in the same room.49. Write about things I know about online, anonymously, to remind myself how much more I know than the average person.50. Study and work really hard until the imposter syndrome goes away.
Something really interesting about this exercise for me was how long it took me to consider the idea of seeking professional help or talking to someone like a professor or advisor. I tend to be overly self-reliant, and I would have probably benefited from both social and professional advice when I was in college, but it just didn't seem like something I could do. Writing down ALL the ideas is really helpful in shaking off those assumptions.
I struggled to come up with an item or action that would be well-suited for a sapience spell, as I don't have any tattoos or jewelry or birthmarks, but I've come up with something that I am happy with: My trigger is cleaning my glasses. This has the benefit of not seeming entirely random, as I can feel a metaphorical connection between wiping away smudges in my vision and introspecting to see myself and my mind more clearly (there is an added benefit of reminding myself of Klaus Baudelaire. I always admired how the Baudelaires have unique behaviors they perform when they're getting "in the zone" to use their unique skills to solve their problems - you know something serious is about to go down when Klaus cleans his glasses or Violet puts her hair up).
I've chosen to focus on the ideas of clarity and vision in my mantra, and the goal of my Sapience Spell is simply to assess whether I am satisfied with my current actions, motivations, and plans: "See clearly: what am I doing? Answer honestly: why? Looking at this moment from tomorrow, consider: How will I use the rest of today?"