Anxiety and Imposters Syndrome in DC

By Emma Kate Sowder| September 30, 2019

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As I stepped onto the Metro my first day of work in DC, honestly, I was terrified.

View getting off the Metro

Here I was in the city that I had been dreaming of for months, going to work in a think tank where I would research the policy I loved. I was living on the hill and fulfilling the goals I had set for myself.

However, when I stepped into my new workplace, I felt an overwhelming sense of dread. As I sat on the couches outside the office of the intern coordinator, I began to panic. Close to tears, I began to question all my decisions leading up to DC. I had so much anxiety about my upcoming semester and I felt I was not at all good enough to be working in an institution that is leading the field in foreign policy. I began to question how I had gotten the position I had been hired for. I was worried about what my coworkers would think of me, that they would think I was unintelligent, I was worried about making friends, I was worried about making friends in my WISH house and my roommates, I was questioning if I even deserved to be in DC, and so much more.

This my friends is imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success”.  It’s believing that regardless of your accomplishments and achievements that you are not good enough for your position. Even though I had gotten this position, I had come all the way to DC and gotten into an amazing Ohio State Washington Academic Internship Program. Regardless of all this, I still felt that I was not enough or adequate for my position or for living in DC.

Imposter syndrome is a part of anxiety and finding your way with growing up. Stress that you won’t meet expectations is a part of life and normal with big changes. The good news though, is that these anxious feelings aren’t the truth. While my life is far from perfect, my anxiety was unfounded.

I am up to the tasks that my job requires of me. I love every minute I spend researching and fitting together the puzzle of a memo or infographic. While I make mistakes, like any other human, I was hired for a reason. I made great friends in my internship and have great relationships with my superiors and coworkers. My roommates in my WISH house have become lifelong friends within a few short weeks. I love where I live, I never got lost on the metro, and exploring all DC has to offer has been the best part of my college experience.

Me and my WISH roommates Left to Right: Emma, Cyan, Me, Sarah

Poet Suzy Kassem said, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” When it comes to DC and following your dreams, you have to believe in yourself. Fear and anxiety can break you down, but at the end of the day remembering that you are where you are for a reason can set you free. My experience in DC so far has been amazing and I can’t wait to see where the rest of the semester takes me.

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