The spike of adrenaline and rush of endorphines around getting an admit.
The frantic phone calls to family, and high-fives around the office.
All of that subsiding over the course of the next few days to a happy hum of contentment: YOU DID IT!!! You got into bschool! A top MBA program actually accepted you!!
Fast-forward a week or two, or maybe a month, or maybe it doesn’t hit until you get on campus for the excitement of Welcome Weekend (or Admit Day or whatever your school calls it)… And suddenly you start to feel oddly uncomfortable.
Maybe it first hits when you meet some kind of superstar admit like an Olympic athlete who’s now going to be going to this school, and then a White House aide, and then the next woman already has her own business that’s the top seller on Etsy. And you meet like 15 people in a row who work on Wall Street or McKinsey or Google. And pretty soon, you start to not look forward to new-classmate introductions, when you have to keep telling them what your job is.
Or maybe it happens when you overhear someone casually say that their company offered them a $50,000 raise if they’d stick around at their job instead of leaving for bschool… and your entire salary is only a little more than that right now.
Then the thought pattern starts:
“Wow, they’re all so much better than me.”
“Sheesh, it seems like everyone has a 770 GMAT.”
“Dang, how am I going to keep up with them?”
“I think the adcom made a mistake.”
BSer, this thinking may sabotage you — and it’s OK if it does. Or, it’s not OK, but it’s what our hypercompetitive capitalistic prejudicial culture does to us.
What you’re experiencing is super common, and it’s something you’ll want to become aware of, and not buy into.
Your own thoughts can completely derail you – and all of those thoughts are NOT TRUE.
What this is describing is a phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome and it happens to lots of really successful people. Women may be more prone to it but it’s an equal-opportunity brainf@ck. It creeps in and takes hold of you, and it can make you absolutely miserable. If you’re not careful, it can suck the life out of you, taking away all motivation and making you feel worthless.
This post is to alert you of this phenomenon so that you can be on the lookout.
It happens to lots of people. Maybe everyone?
That Olympic athlete? Oh yeah, you betchya, they’re comparing themselves to everyone else and thinking, “Oh CRAP I’ll never survive here, what was I thinking, applying for business school?!???? I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT BUSINESS! I’m doooooooomed!!!!!!!!”
That entrepreneur chick? She’s probably sweating bullets about whether she’ll be able to afford bschool at all, given that she’s been on a shoestring salary for a year already, trying to bootstrap her business, and she’s nervous about every single happy hour where she has to pull out her credit card in front of everyone, in case it might be declined. She thought that the MBA might be her salvation to take this business to the next level, and now she thinks the whole thing might be yet another colossal mistake, especially when she hears about everyone else who wants to start a company through bschool, and their ideas seem so much better than this little thing she’s been trying to make happen.
That Wall Street guy? He’s feeling paranoid that he’s never going to be able to make it out of finance – which he hates. All he can think about is the competition he’s seeing, and how much better-positioned YOU are for the type of post-MBA career jump he’s trying to make.
Everyone is dealing with their own insecurities. Everyone thinks that everyone else is better than them. We can guarantee you, lots and lots of those super impressive future classmates you’ve met have been thinking the same kind of awe-struck thoughts about YOU and your incredible story as you’re thinking about them. It happens all the time.
The bottom-line truth is, if you were accepted to bschool — ANY bschool — that means you’ve done something right. You’ve worked hard and gotten somewhere in life already. You DESERVE the spot they’ve offered you in their incoming class. The adcoms do not make mistakes.
If this imposter thinking happens to you, please don’t let it take you out. Talk to your friends and family. Simply voicing the feelings and saying them outloud often dissipates their power. Maybe you can even laugh about it.
Or maybe the school did make a mistake, and your 700 GMAT looked like a 780 when they viewed it on their computer screen, and oh sh!t anydaynowtheyregonnacallyouupandtellyouitsallovernowyoureonthestreetgetouttahereyabum and your life will be in ruins.
Nah. Prolly not. You’re prolly safe from all that happening. 🙂
If you’re headed to bschool in the Fall, Congratulations, Brave Supplicant!! The rollercoaster-ride of MBA admissions is not yet over even once you have that admit in hand.