“Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon or impostorism, is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”
Recently, a prospective student asked how my application process for Heller was. I chuckled to myself and responded, “dramatic”.
I quickly let her know this was not because of anything Heller had done. Every student and admissions director I spoke to during my application process was kind and engaging (shout-out to the admissions office!). But that left the question, why was it so dramatic?
Well, the short answer is: me. However, the longer answer speaks to something I believe we all feel at some point in our lives, especially when trying something new.
Prior to attending Heller, I worked in my hometown, helping to open a museum about the Historic Greenwood District and 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre (if you haven’t heard of this before, take some time today to learn about it!). Prior to that, I was in school, double majoring in Afro-American Studies and Political Science.
I tell you this to show how far my interests were from anything related to business! But when I decided to pursue an MBA, I did so with the same enthusiasm and vigor I had when pursuing my love of history and politics. Starting September 2021, I signed up for any and all virtual MBA fairs, signed up to take the GMAT, and got to work.
About a month later, all my work had stalled or stopped. I dreaded going to MBA fairs, just to be told I should think about not pursuing an MBA until I knew exactly what I wanted to do post-graduation. I got anxious every time I thought about studying for the GMAT. I felt so unmotivated. And as I reflect on that time now, I can see I was really just afraid. Afraid of not knowing, afraid of failing, and afraid of rejection.
I don’t know about you, but oftentimes when I am trying something new in life, I tend to come down with a serious case of amnesia. I forget about all the accomplishments, skills, and lessons learned I have acquired over the years. Impostor syndrome starts to creep in, and sometimes it wins. But if I could go back and talk to myself during my one too many crying sessions, I would shake myself and say “REMEMBER!”
And that’s what I say to you now. The process of applying to anything, let alone a master’s program, can be daunting, but remember. Remember that everything on your resume was not an accident or chance (maybe a little grace in my case), but it was your talent meeting your hard work. The words your recommenders have to say about you are not lies, but reflections of the value you’ve brought to each room you’ve entered. And maybe you lack some experience and you just barely scraped together three recommendation letters, that’s okay! Remember your why and start planning for the memories you will create.
Please don’t let the application process for you be as dramatic as it was for me! Breathe, take your time, and remember. (You should especially remember that the second application deadline for most programs is March 1st for domestic students, and the final application deadline for international students is February 1st :P)