Alumni Voice


“Imposter Syndrome”

Swam Min Htike

University student (Computer Engineering)

Imposter Syndrome is the belief that one’s own abilities do not meet the standards that their position requires. Self-doubt makes it so that they feel like a fraud or an imposter. This is a very common thought among many youths trying to find a place in the world. It can really put a strain on your mental health and discourage you from pursuing your dreams. I have also felt imposter syndrome many times before, especially after the devastating effects of COVID on our society. More and more students our age have reported higher levels of stress and anxiety. If you are also feeling the same way, then you are not alone.

My name is Swam Min Htike, and I am an international student from Myanmar majoring in Computer Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Like many other academic institutions, the University of Michigan has adopted a policy where most of their courses were online. I understood that it was a necessary measure to ensure our safety, but I was still extremely disappointed as this was not my style. Personally, I learned best when attending lectures physically, discussing the material with my friends and studying at the nice atmosphere of the library. Since I did not have any other options, I just went ahead and signed up for the maximum number of credits I could take, thinking I could handle it, and prepared for my new student life.

As any of you could have predicted, things did not go well. I started missing lecture after lecture, my assignments were overdue, and my physical and mental health were deteriorating fast. The online format of learning was just not working out for me and I had very little motivation to stare at a screen for hours on end to watch an old man speak slowly about circuits. While all of this was happening to me, some of my friends started receiving internship offers from esteemed companies. Though I was genuinely happy for their accomplishments, it also made me more disappointed in myself for not being able to keep up with my peers. This was where my imposter syndrome started to kick in. I felt that I was not smart enough, talented enough or just simply good enough to be successful. This way of thinking really dug into me and just made my health and my grades way worse.

Since my state of mind was in bad shape, I finally decided to get help and opened up to my closest friends about my fears and anxieties. Turns out, they all had been feeling the exact same thing I was feeling. They all felt that they weren’t good enough. Then, I had a small revelation. This year wasn’t just bad for me. It was bad for everyone as well. Therefore, I should not be let down and be ashamed of myself for not being the best at everything. I just needed to give it my best shot.

Afterwards, I decided to drop out of a class and took a break from my part-time job. This gave me much more time and resources to devote to taking care of my health and spending time with the people around me. I stopped forcing myself to stay in my apartment and study all night. Instead, I slept for eight hours every day and took jogs around campus every time I felt stressed. If I was ever feeling lonely, I called my family or hung out with close friends (in gatherings of less than 10 people of course). It wasn’t long after I started taking care of myself when I noticed that my grades were greatly improving as well. I was able to learn and retain information better due to the lack of stress.

Looking back now, it seemed obvious that if I believed myself to be incapable, then I would also act incapable. I had to be confident in my abilities and believe myself to be capable, in order to be capable. Of course, if it was that easy, then nobody would be feeling depressed. It takes a mighty strong will and effort to get yourself out of that whirlpool of self-doubt we call imposter syndrome. If you ever feel that you can’t do it yourself, then don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your friends and family are always there for you.                 I hope that my experience has conveyed to you the valuable lesson I learned during the pandemic. Be kind to yourself and don’t push yourself too hard. Taking it slow is not a sin. These are hard times for everyone. It is okay if you are not where you want to be this year. There will always be next year and the year after that. Remember that you are where you are because you are good enough to be where you are. No one can tell you otherwise, not even yourself. Stay healthy, stay safe and enjoy TYCA 2020!


私はSwam Min Htikeと申します。ミャンマーからの留学生で、ミシガン大学でコンピュータ工学を専攻しています。他の多くの学術機関と同様に、ミシガン大学では、授業のほとんどがオンラインで行われるという方針を採用しました。安全を確保するための必要な措置であることは理解していましたが、私には合わないので、非常に残念でした。個人的には、対面で講義を受け、友人と議論し、雰囲気の良い図書館で勉強をする方法が自分に一番合っていました。他に選択肢がなかったので、自分なら大丈夫だと思って、受講できる最大単位数の申し込みをして、新しい学生生活の準備をしました。





私の経験と、パンデミックの時に学んだ貴重な教訓を皆さんに伝えられたのであれば幸いです。自分に優しく、無理をしないことです。ゆっくりと進むことは罪ではありません。今は誰にとっても辛い時期です。あなたが今年、いたかった場所にいなくても大丈夫です。来年も、その次の年も、必ずあります。あなたが今の場所いるのは、あなたが十分に素晴らしい存在であるからです。誰も、そしてあなた自身もあなたに対して、それ以上のことは言えません。健康でいて、安全でいて、TYCA 2020を楽しみましょう!

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