Imposter Syndrome (and the time I was totally an imposter)

In the Spring of 2018, I had one of my greatest honors; to attend the annual HHMI ExROP fellows conference as an alum. I was being invited to share the wisdom I gained in the 5 years since the summer I spent participating in an HHMI ExROP research program at Stanford University. The invitation was not just one to a conference, but an invitation to reflect on the ways I’ve grown and become a real scientist in my field.

One night at the conference, I was asked by a student how I dealt with imposter syndrome. It was late, I had already spent an hour giving extremely honest advice amongst peers, and I found myself blurting out that I don’t believe in the construct of an “imposter” in science, therefore I have absolved myself of imposter syndrome.

Believe me, I was shocked as much as the undergrads I was speaking to.

I reflected more on this idea as I left the conference and wrote a twitter thread about it to put my nebulous thoughts out into the universe. You can click on the tweet to read the rest of it.

Not long after I poured my feelings into this thread, I was approached by an editor at Quartz to extrapolate on my perspective. Now this was a dose of imposter syndrome! I had never published a personal essay before for all the world to see my (likely flawed and dramaticized) opinion. Who was I to jump on this platform and shout to the world? But who was I to stand on a stage and lecture some of our countrys greatest budding scientists? Who would I be if not the girl to stand before strangers and bear her soul for judgement?

I took the leap and wrote the article. I still don’t feel like an imposter. Take a glimpse at my article and see if I can change your mind about feeling like one.

Christine Liu