Iche habe Angst

Read this great surviving engineering school guide. It's a little out of date, but the advice holds. Specifically the author (Richard Felder) mentions Imposter Syndrome, and his closing paragraph sums up how I feel every day:

If this advice is hard for you to take now, you're probably suffering from what psychologists refer to as the Impostor Phenomenon, which is like a tape that plays inside people's heads. If you're an engineering student looking around at your classmates, the tape goes something like this: "These people are good—they understand all this stuff. They really belong here…but I don't. Over the years I've somehow managed to fool them all—my family, my friends, my teachers. They all think I'm smart enough to be here, but I know better…and the very next hard test or hard question I get in class will finally reveal me as the impostor I am." And what would happen next is too horrible to contemplate, so at that point you just rewind and replay the tape.

What you don't know is that almost everyone else in the class is playing the same tape, and the student in the front row with the straight A average is playing it louder than anyone else. Furthermore, the tape is usually wrong. If you survived your first year of engineering school, you almost certainly have what it takes to be an engineer. Just remember all your predecessors who had the same self-doubts you have now and did just fine. You do belong here, and you'll get through it just like they did. Try to relax and enjoy the trip.

Good words to read every morning. Every day when I wonder whether I'm really as incompetent as I'm always afraid I am, or if that's just my negative inner voice talking to me. It doesn't help when others doubt my intelligence or my skill and I wonder, are they right about me? So I'll just print this out in bold and reassure myself, Stewart Smalley style, that I am smart, and gosh darnnit people like me. I think this holds for many of us small-ego types. So read these words to yourself, because dammnit, you are good at what you do and who you are, and don't let that negative inner voice or other blowhards convince you otherwise.


  1. Thanks for sharing that! I definitely felt that way when I was starting my degree. I'm still guilty of imagining super uberpeople that don't exist and letting them scare me away from what I want to do. I'm going to have to pass this on to all my high school kids, it sums up what I've been telling them but much more concisely.

  2. On the other hand, postal work has good benefits.