Imposter Syndrome

posted
01-Dec-17, 11:58
Avatar for kenziebob
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hi all. I am a first year PhD student, and it's all going really well so far (I think). I'm dealing with the constructive nature of feedback from supervisors (my first article review had over 30 comments from three supervisors!) and I am getting to grips with writing a systematic literature review (my supervisor wants to aim to publish). I suppose the way I'm feeling now is quite natural given that I have never been given this breadth of feedback before - I know it's needed as the research/my thesis needs to be valid and informed, and it's all constructive which is very helpful. But I keep feeling like I know absolutely nothing - I'm guessing this is normal for being two months into a PhD?

I know I'm a lot further along than a lot of other new PhD students - I have already been writing for my supervisor every couple of weeks (and have a good few thousand words by now), she wants to publish a systematic literature review, we have some basic research questions to consider and I'm heading to a conference soon (not to present, just to network/go to talks). But I can't help this feeling of knowing absolutely nothing! My office mates say this is good as it means I am accepting that my knowledge is always growing (and not there yet), is this something to just get used to?

Anyway, apologies for the ramble. I've been lurking here for a while and beyond my question I just wanted to pop my head above the surface and say hello. You all seem very knowledgeable :).
posted
01-Dec-17, 12:45
edited about 51 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From kenziebob:
Hi all. I am a first year PhD student, and it's all going really well so far (I think). I'm dealing with the constructive nature of feedback from supervisors (my first article review had over 30 comments from three supervisors!) and I am getting to grips with writing a systematic literature review (my supervisor wants to aim to publish). I suppose the way I'm feeling now is quite natural given that I have never been given this breadth of feedback before - I know it's needed as the research/my thesis needs to be valid and informed, and it's all constructive which is very helpful. But I keep feeling like I know absolutely nothing - I'm guessing this is normal for being two months into a PhD?

I know I'm a lot further along than a lot of other new PhD students - I have already been writing for my supervisor every couple of weeks (and have a good few thousand words by now), she wants to publish a systematic literature review, we have some basic research questions to consider and I'm heading to a conference soon (not to present, just to network/go to talks). But I can't help this feeling of knowing absolutely nothing! My office mates say this is good as it means I am accepting that my knowledge is always growing (and not there yet), is this something to just get used to?

Anyway, apologies for the ramble. I've been lurking here for a while and beyond my question I just wanted to pop my head above the surface and say hello. You all seem very knowledgeable :).


Yes this is a very normal feeling. You should get used to it. Right up to and after passing my viva and getting my PhD I still feel the fingers of imposter syndrome clutching at me. Get used to others thinking that you are faking this and that you know everything. I think it is because when you commit to something like a PhD you learn very quickly how much stuff you don't know. Less knowledgeable people, parents friends etc, have no visibility of the overwhelming amount of things to be learned and so don't understand where we are coming from.

Knowing eveything is not the point. Knowing how to find things out and make links which others can't is what the PhD is teaching you.
posted
01-Dec-17, 12:54
edited about 25 seconds later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 2 weeks ago
Yes, it's normal. When I started my PhD, I felt as if I'd been handed a megaphone, because my thoughts and ideas were suddenly heard, valued and engaged with by academics, and I was still the same person with the same ideas that I'd been for all the years beforehand. It felt odd then and it still does now. I think, like pm133 said, most people don't know what they don't know, and when you suddenly do a lot of learning, you become acutely aware of all the things you don't know.
posted
04-Dec-17, 21:56
by rt425
Avatar for rt425
posted about 1 week ago
Hello
I'm afraid I don't have any advice but I have plenty of identification! I'm 6 months in to my PhD and have felt so anxious and incompetent since the beginning. It hasn't helped that I came down with glandular fever 10 weeks in, my grandad died a few weeks later having been very unwell for several months and I had to move house. It feels as though my nervous system has taken such a knock that I can't fully recover, I constantly feel like a rabbit in the headlights and just can't seem to gather my thoughts.

Despite all this my supervisors say they are really pleased with where I'm at; I've designed my study and have just finished my ethics proposal ready for submission early in the new year. I've done a fair amount of reading and partially written my first chapter. However I'm not doing a systematic review as it just feels too overwhelming, I've totally given up on the idea of ever getting published (and have lost any motivation to) and am just hoping to scrape it together enough to produce a reasonable literature review.

I hadn't intended to write so much! I've just come off the phone from my Mum. She thinks I should jack it in and is worried about how ill I look/sound. I don't know what to do! I can't bear the idea of throwing the towel in but I just can't see how I'm going to get through when I'm constantly suffering from brain-fog and overwhelm.

I'm so sorry to hijack your trail kenziebob, does anybody else relate to this feeling of utter panic?
posted
06-Dec-17, 23:05
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for kenziebob
posted about 1 week ago
Don't worry at all!

That sounds like a lot to go through on top of normal PhD stresses. Could you take some time off, even just a few days to clear your head?

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