Werqin’ Girl and Learning About Impostor Syndrome

“Girl you better werq!”

Girl, I’m trying.

This week has been great so far with me trying to prepare for grad school, keeping up with my blog and starting my night podcasts.

Grad school has been tough because the COVID-19 crisis put everything on the back burner. Which is hard for me because I’m new to how graduate school even works. I found out like a week and a half ago that grad school was under its own department which is separate from undergrad.

Then I tried to contact the grad school office on questions but I felt like my questions weren’t being answered which could be because we communicating through email. Email sometimes can confusion due to not specifying what you need.

Right now, I’ve basically given up trying to pry an answer from someone so I’m going to wait it out. For some people, that might sound crazy because grad school is important and should be taken seriously. Trust me and my 1,000 emails I’ve sent to the Graduate Studies Office, this is serious to me.

I just don’t know what else to do, I can’t force someone to talk to me. They have 1,000 other students to talk with also.

I’m going to wait until my graduate school coordinator contacts me on the next steps and hope and pray for the best.

Although I chose to wait it out, I didn’t stop my road to success by sitting down and doing nothing. On Instagram, I saw a 3-day virtual summit about helping grad students become successful in grad school.

When I tell you I looked up to the sky and said, “Thank you.” It was hosted by a podcast called “Black in Grad School” and I wasted no time following them and signing up for the summit.

Best three days EVER!

The first day covered time management and strategies for completing your daily routine (school, work, assistantships, cohorts, etc.). All three of the amazing, black professors gave so much insight on how to handling everyday life in grad school.

Here are some highlights from the first day:

  • Your reputation is not something that you own, but something that you manage.
  • We all have the same time, but different resources. So plan accordingly.
  • Find the three important things to do first, then do everything else. Set a goal for yourself for more determination.
  • Instead of saying, re-frame it.
  • Protect your peace at all costs, become what you consume the most, and move away from the hustle to be a high performer.
  • Remind yourself why you’re doing this and pay attention to how it evolves.
  • If the friendship isn’t aligned with what you’re doing, then you have to let them go.

Great advice from all of them, and you could tell there was nothing fake about what they wanted us to understand when planning. It’s your life and time so make sure to use the most of it!

Day two focused on community building and branding. When I tell you this was the most I heard about community because usually in undergrad it’s not talked about as much unless you’re in a governmental organization.

Here are some highlights from the second day:

  • Community is no less than 40% of your experience.
  • It’s important to have a professional mentor and a community building of your peers.
  • A lot of the programs meant to compete with the students together. Research about the background of the program to see if the community forces you to compete.
  • Be selective in who you let into your community.
  • Navigate your relationships to where your faculty become your colleagues.
  • It’s important to differentiate between who want to help and those who are willingly ignorant.
  • Their ignorance is not your reality.
  • Sometimes the faculty aren’t trained to be mentors for students of color.
  • Myth: You have to know enough to survive in this world.
  • The student becomes a professional who becomes a consultant who becomes an entrepreneur.
  • Be present to opportunities for building relationships.
  • Three core values for Octavia’s brand:
    • Growth within myself and my peers.
    • Courage to advocate.
    • Spread positive messages that eradicate the divisive messages.

Man the fact that we have two (incredibly fine black men) and two women from different nationalities giving us some valuable tips for us to really grow inside and outside of grad school is excellent in my opinion.

The final day hit me harder because I started to realize why I had so much self-doubt. We discussed the topic of impostor syndrome. This isn’t my first time hearing this term but for other people, here’s the definition.

Impostor Syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.

Here are some highlights from the last day:

  • Transformative (Critical Theory) Paradigm, what’s real in the world through the experiences we have.
  • Why is impostor syndrome diff for women of color:
    • Multidimensional
    • Lack of representation
    • Stereotype threat
    • Internalized false messages of inferiority
  • How to beat impostor syndrome:
    • Re-frame your thinking
    • Find your people
    • Own your journey

There was a mental health yoga session afterward but I had a prior engagement with the “Black Media” event to listen to different ways to make black media stronger (I write about that for next week).

The reason the impostor syndrome touched me the most because I related to it so much. As you can tell, it was the one I took the fewer notes on because I felt like a lot of the information that was given to me was already in my head.

For example, when we discussed how sometimes we will place doubt on our abilities but still do the work without issues, I felt a clench on my heart. I ALWAYS do stuff like the scenarios where the college student gets asked to be on a panel and they’re freaking out about not being good enough but still tell the person who asked them “yes.”

I know that all too well.

You know what? After the seminar, I realized it was okay to go through impostor syndrome. I just wish I knew more about it during my undergraduate college years.

I know what to do now that I’m going to grad school. I’m taking all of these tips and advice with me so that I can prepare myself for ANYTHING.

I’m glad I signed up for the summit, I hope there are more in the future because I know I’m going to need them.

Photo credited by @blkingradschool

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