Is Imposter Syndrome stalling your application? Here are three ways to address it.

Nick Parkinson, Westpac Scholar, 2022 Future Leader 


So someone’s told you about the Westpac Scholars Program. You jump online and look at past scholars’ profiles. Gee they’re inspiring, you think to yourself. You begin your application, but make little progress. You get caught up thinking that you’re not like them: that you couldn’t be a Westpac Scholar. 


Countless Westpac Scholars, myself included, have felt this. It’s classic Imposter Syndrome: despite the people around you saying you have what it takes, you doubt yourself. 


But you needn’t let Imposter Syndrome stop you from hitting submit on your scholarship application. Here are three ways to cope with Imposter Syndrome and even use it to your advantage. 


Acknowledge and embrace it


Your Imposter Syndrome will probably never go away. That’s a good thing. In moderation, it keeps us grounded and humble: qualities Westpac Scholars Trust looks for in scholars. 


But in excess Imposter Syndrome can prevent people from pursuing opportunities that would benefit not only them, but broader society. 


It’s easy to fall into thinking traps, wondering if others will consider you up to the task. Yet, as a wise mentor once told me, “Why let your assumptions about what others think of you stop you from having a go?” 


The key then is identifying your Imposter Syndrome, determining if you have the right amount of it, and—if not—drawing on your support network to help you strike the balance between unhelpful self-effacement and equally unhelpful hubris. 


Focus on your strengths


People with Imposter Syndrome typically concentrate on their flaws. A productive focus on areas of growth is a healthy trait. But, perhaps like you, I’m guilty of fixating on my faults. 


During my application for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, one of the things that helped me shift my mindset was to catch myself when I was engaging in negative self-talk. I told myself that constant negative self-talk was indulgent—and even narcissistic—self-pity. 


Reframing it in those rather brutal terms encouraged me to pay attention to the strengths I bring. 


Remind yourself who you’re doing this for


Presumably you’re interested in becoming a Westpac Scholar to help other people. Use your altruistic ambitions as a tool to fight against Imposter Syndrome. 


Imposter Syndrome nags us with reservations like “I don’t deserve this” and “I’m sure other people are more qualified”. These anxieties centre on you. Try to flip your thinking to put the focus back on those who will benefit from the change you hope to make. After all, it’s ultimately to help them that you’re applying for this scholarship!   


Published 25 July 2022

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