New epidemic: imposter syndrome in seniors

Seniors question whether they feel like the leaders of the school


Senior Sophia Perticarini works in her CCP Composition class. Sophia, along with other seniors, struggles with missing important milestones after COVID-19. Photo by Gabriella Harris.

After over a year of missing school and important milestones, current seniors have not had a full year of school since their freshman year. School trips, football games and extracurricular activities have been wiped away from them, and in its place is a feeling of emptiness in their fairytale high school expectations.

With these important milestones erased, imposter syndrome has plagued current seniors across the nation. Instead of looking back at high school with fond memories, seniors may find themselves asking, “are we really seniors”?

Imposter syndrome is loosely defined by Harvard Business Review as “doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.” 

Current seniors may feel like the important milestones set up by their predecessors have been taken away from them. As a result, a feeling of being stuck in an unfamiliar position has affected seniors in countless ways.

“I feel like I am still waiting to feel like a senior,” senior Maddie Hoopingarner said. “For the past three years, it was almost comforting to know that there were grades above me, but this year there is no longer that comfort level. It creates an exposed feeling that can be difficult to navigate.”

This exposed feeling has been shared among many seniors across the school. After a year and a half of lost time and online work, some seniors feel like the lack of a transition from year to year has blended the lines between events that set students apart.

As a result of this lost time, the class of 2022 are now the oldest in the school. As the oldest, these seniors have been thrust into positions of power with less experience and guidance than previous years.

“It feels kind of wrong,” senior Claytin Sweeney said. “I feel like I just gained the position of leader by default, I didn’t really do anything to get it.”

These ideas fall in line with imposter syndrome as some seniors feel like these leadership positions were more luck based than anything else, causing them to doubt their own experience that led them there. 

These feelings have created a shared sense of unity among current seniors. 

“I feel supported knowing that all of my friends are going through the same nervous feelings and uncertainty about the future as much as I am,” Hoopingarner said. “I’m not the only one who doesn’t have the future completely figured out. We all feel sort of lost when it comes to what to do to take the next step after high school.”

This communal sense of doubt and feeling stuck has brought seniors together in an unprecedented way. Being able to work through these thoughts and recognize them to be real is what allows imposter syndrome to eventually be overcome.

Overall, the pandemic has completely rearranged the picture seniors have been creating in their heads about high school since they were young. 

“I think at this point I am pretty much stuck here,” senior Haley McNichol said. “It is fine, but I weirdly just want to be done with school. It’s crazy that in a year I am going to be an adult.”

Acceptance is key to overcoming imposter syndrome. Adapting to new environments will always be a part of life and this year has proven that current seniors are capable of picking up where their predecessors left off.

Whether all seniors feel like a fraud or not, this struggle and discomfort has allowed for a sense of unity among peers. As seniors look at the world ahead of them, it can be definitively concluded that there has been no year quite like this one.