When you say “we all have imposter syndrome” to people from marginalised backgrounds, you erase the many layers of disadvantage they’ve fought against to get into those ivory halls.
I straight out stopped talking about my dis-ease in academia because so many of you responded like this. I left because of these words.
What privileged people with uninterrupted education and social supports think of as ‘imposter syndrome’ is a privilege. You know you got to where you are because of your privilege and (rightly enough) whether you ‘earned’ your spot.
Only you can know the answer to that question but by checking that privilege when someone like me tells you they feel like an imposter then maybe you could help even up the playing field a bit and not scare the future mes out of the scene.
I was a high school drop out who’d been homeless, addicted and abused. I never knew anyone who’d been to university. I was a single mother in recovery from everything and paid my way through a tertiary prep course with sex work because I didn’t know equity scholarships existed.
I was an imposter in every definition of the word. If the parents of other students in my class knew who their kids were sitting next to, they would have called the faculty outraged. Indeed, exactly this happened in my third year but it was a casual tutor who took up arms against me. (Thanks, Van.)
I was an imposter who did what many of you wonder endlessly about – I definitively earned my place in academia.
But that’s not what it’s actually about and we all know it. Knowing that is what got me out of teaching.
The permanent jobs go to privileged people while the rest of us put on our frilly casual panties and beg for another casual subject or session or lecture. Like sex work but less honest.
Privilege decides who makes a career of academia and who is used up and spat out.
I couldn’t talk about this because “everyone gets imposter syndrome”. And the hardest times I heard it was coming from the woman I was looking to for career advice. They knew me, knew my fights, and still said these oh-so-harmful words to me.
Maybe stop saying this to marginalised academic hopefuls?
Your imposter syndrome is not their imposter syndrome. Your experience was not their experience.