Imposter, and Syndrome

Last year around this time, I wrote a post called The After-Mat(c)h, in which I described the unorthodox and yet still painful ending to my 2nd application cycle. This year, my application cycle clearly ended very differently, in the most joyous and orthodox of ways— matching to my first choice.

So tell me why I’m writing this at 11 pm because my stomach is tense and I’m stressed and unable to sleep. 😂

I know, the past 2 years of me would justifiably hate the me-now. Like “oh come on, you’re finding things to stress and worry about after all of your dreams came true?” I have definitely thought that when matched people shared stresses with unmatched me. But now, I’ve got some empathy for both sides.

This year’s after-mat(c)h feels are excitement, joy, and very real stresses about launching myself into the heart of the pandemic and trying to survive NYC cost of living while I’m in grad school. Also, no one is hiring because the global economy is collapsing.

My mind feels a lot like the house looks right now, as we’re preparing for a June move out. A lot of weigh and junk is gone. But now there’s a lot of random stuff strewn all of the floor and I’m not sure what to do with it.

And it seems by moving out the dining table sized worry of “what career will I end up in”, I uncovered the under-table crumbs of imposter syndrome.

Goodbye, table. Yeah, we actually don’t have this table anymore, IRL.

And guys, confession, I’ve always rolled my eyes at talk of imposter syndrome. People who say they have that are just humble-bragging right? Saying “oh man I can’t believe how much I’ve accomplished and how qualified everyone thinks I am”.

Ha it really do not be like that though. Now that I’m experiencing it, it’s more like the haunting thought that I only made it in on some minuscule difference, or dumb luck. That if I had gotten different interviewers, or if later interview dates hadn’t been virtual, or if I hadn’t mentioned this one thing or that one thing, I wouldn’t have matched. Like so many bits of randomness had to happen to make this match occur, and I don’t feel that I deserve a happy future career just because I rolled the dice a few times and won once.

So I guess right now I’m experiencing a combo of imposter syndrome and survivors’ guilt. Plus some acid reflux too. That’s definitely a contributing factor as to why I can’t sleep tonight. Send positivity to my esophagus, it’s truly doing its worst rn.

Now that these mixed feels are all out in the open, we can approach them. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling super excited to be a gc, but also overwhelmed with a mix of other emotions, compounded by an uncertain world around us. Here’s some thoughts for all of us feeling a little bit of everything right now.

Thought 1: We have time

It’s been a long week and a half, no? A lot has happened since Match Day, at least in my house! For the next few weeks, I really want to focus on slowing my roll!

I’m someone who tends to get myself in situations by jumping at the first set plan that comes around. It took great effort to turn down the first lease option Zach and I were offered in NYC, even though we could both tell it wasn’t the right fit. We also both signed up to work Amazon fulfillment jobs (me for the summer, him for however long!), only to realize we’re not going to be in New York even close to the date we would need to start. Sometimes being overzealous and trying to set a course too soon just leads to frustration.

It’s ok to still be in the celebratory and planning phase at this time. Start decluttering your sock drawer, no need to sign a lease just yet.

Thought 2: It’s a Great Time to Do Things That Make You Happy

Except we’re all locked up in our houses, amiright? But restrictions are starting to let up in the coming weeks, so hopefully we’ll all get to do some of the things we love to do, even with some extra safety precautions.

Even though you never *have to* do anything just to impress an admissions committee, now you really don’t have to. I’m hoping that before I leave Arizona, I get to go back to my volunteering at the Humane Society, and spend more time with homeless pets. That’s what I love to do, outside of genetic counseling stuff. Spending time doing things you love and are good at, outside of your GC application, should aid in self-care after a long application cycle, and keep your mind off of worrying about looming grad school.

I MEAN who could be stressed when greeted like this?
I need my fill of snoots sticking through kennel bars!!

This same sentiment actually goes for those who will be reapplying this fall as well. Enjoy this summer and do things that make you happy. I got through 2 unmatched summers this way. App improvement will come more easily after taking time to rediscover who you are besides a GC applicant.

Thought 3: If Everyone’s Super, No One Feels Like They Are

We all have reasons to believe that we barely made it, that weren’t not good enough to have matched. We’re all super, so none of us feel super! But that doesn’t change the fact that we are.

An evil man once said:

Is Syndrome actually just the embodiment of imposter syndrome??? That’s a separate essay.

Don’t let Syndrome fool you, a Super is still a Super even if everyone around them is one too. We all bring our different superpowers to our respective programs, and our programs ranked us because they saw a need in the program and in the genetic counseling field for someone with our particular skill set. It doesn’t matter where you fell on the rank list, we’re all equal colleagues now. And we are all super.


Well I swear I wasn’t meaning for this post to take a dive into the deeper meanings of my one of my Disney favorites but here we are. Now to go into 5 hours of research to determine if Syndrome was actually named after Imposter Syndrome. 😂

I hope you’re all hanging in there through stay-at-home orders, and staying safe as things start to reopen. Keep your masks on and save our fall semester! We don’t want to rematch, this time to Zoom University, amiright?

Til next time!

-Laura Cooper-Hastings

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