Fighting Against Imposter Syndrome
By Ariana Perez
Do you ever feel like no matter how hard you work you’re accomplishing nothing? That you could be doing better and that you’re failing yourself along with others? That you’re a fraud despite everything you’ve achieved?
If you’ve ever felt that way, the good news is, that there’s a term for it, and solutions. The American Psychological Association describes this phenomenon as Imposter Syndrome. An intellectual form of self-doubt, Imposter Syndrome often occurs among high achievers, specifically those who internalize their success as resulting from luck rather than their own personal effort and ability. As a result, self-perception becomes skewed, hard work becomes undermined, and success becomes brushed off and disregarded as undeserving.
Combatting Imposter Syndrome can be a struggle, especially in regards to confronting mindsets. Often enough Imposter Syndrome coincides with perfectionism and the blurring of self-worth as dependent on achievement. Left unchecked, it can negatively affect mental health, causing stress to the body and mind. With that in mind, it helps to recognize your efforts and acknowledge your own expertise. Self-awareness is key, along with reminding yourself that nobody is perfect, and to appreciate the effort you’ve put into getting to where you are today.
However, two things I personally believe help with relieving Imposter Syndrome, are the redefining productivity, and the acknowledgment of self-perception.
Much of Imposter Syndrome is rooted in the belief that nothing you do is good, that you’re not working hard enough, or your work is not good enough. Essentially, the feeling you could be better and more productive in your field or area of knowledge. Redefining productivity allows you to give yourself more credit in areas you may ignore or not notice, allowing you to be more confident and less hard on yourself. In other words, the goal is to stop perceiving yourself as lazy. Avoid burning yourself out. Ideas of healthy productivity and healthy success should not come with consistent self-torture.
Moreover, self-perception is critical to one of the more damaging aspects of Imposter Syndrome, associating self-worth as a result of success. Your perception of your self-worth must not come solely from external achievements. The research you place into your passions and interests does not need the validation of higher academia in order to be seen as valid.
You are already worthy, recognition and awards or not.
Experience as a transfer student to SMC, transitioning from online learning to on campus for the first time in the third year of college.
By Theo Zittel
Contributing from News
When I was first accepted into Saint Mary’s, I was beyond excited. After attending a year at my local community college, it was time for my journey to begin as a true college student, where I would be able to live on campus and away from home for the very first time. However, the second half of my freshman year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This made me anxious as my plans to move to Moraga at the end of the summer were in limbo. Along with the majority of the SMC community, I had no other choice but to remain at home for the remainder of that academic year. Come August, I was set to move onto campus, where I would be in a single room by myself due to the living situation at the time to maintain a healthy social distance between each student who lived on campus. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, classes remained online for the entirety of my first year at SMC. Therefore, I decided living on campus at the height of the pandemic was not for me.
Living at home and attending classes on Zoom full-time was definitely a challenge. Engaging with online lectures and class participation remained to be the biggest of these challenges. I just did not feel comfortable being on a laptop for hours on end, sitting in the same room at home for my entire first semester–something that most students can agree with.
However, my third year of college was one of many firsts for me. Amongst these firsts was the ability to live on campus for the very first time. I finally had the opportunity to experience dorm living. The communal living experience has certainly been interesting, especially considering I had already finished two years of college without ever leaving home. Halfway through the school year, my roommate decided to transfer to another college, which left me with a double room to myself for the entirety of Jan Term, until a new roommate was placed in my room.
The move to campus allowed me to meet other students in my classes; I no longer had to worry about the awkwardness of break-out rooms and lack of conversing with others during my year of online classes. I could make actual connections with other students, especially those who could relate to transferring to SMC during the pandemic. I also learned what it was like to live on campus during the second wave of COVID and how strict, quiet, and boring it was. Another perk was being able to catch up with acquaintances from high school and friends from my hometown who I did not talk to while taking classes from home.
Another obvious first was the access to the amenities located on campus. I could use the recreation center, eat at the dining hall, and enjoy a coffee at Café Louis, to name a few. Attending basketball games with friends was also an activity that I was not able to do since high school. On-campus living also allowed me to speak to professors 1:1, both during and outside of class, which was nearly impossible when classes were online. I no longer had to deal with quirky schedules and talking to them through my laptop screen. Lastly, writing for The Collegian most likely would not have been possible if I were not on campus. Through a reflection on my two years of attending SMC, I have to say that it has not been what I expected it to be like, whether for better or for worse.
Saint Mary’s needs to become more accessible for its students
By Madison Sciba
With everyone bringing to light the problems with Title IX at Saint Mary’s, another issue needs to be addressed. There is a severe lack of accessibility on campus for students with disabilities. Grace Martin (class of ‘25) is one of the many Saint Mary’s students who has struggled as a result of the poor accessibility options on campus. Grace’s biggest issue so far has been with finding accessible housing on campus. As of right now, the only option Grace has for on-campus housing is Aquinas Hall, no other resident hall can accommodate students with disabilities. Grace explained, “My ability to live on campus is very limited as of right now, the only building that is fully accessible is Aquinas Hall. I might have the chance to live in Claeys North next year but it is not fully accessible, the room is but the doors to get in the building are not. The walk down to the main campus is something I also have to worry about.” Students paying the very expensive tuition SMC charges (tuition which is increasing for the next year) as well as the costs of living on campus should not have to worry about whether they are able to walk from their dorm building to their classes in the center of campus. Also, why is only one building on campus built to accommodate? Shouldn’t there be more options for students with disabilities? Upper-class students don’t want to live in Aquinas and be surrounded by buildings full of freshmen. Grace was told that she could possibly live in Claeys North next year, however, they won’t be able to make the building accessible until months into the school year. Why wasn’t the building already accessible?
Housing is not the only issue students with disabilities have faced on campus. The use of the pavilions in place of classrooms created an issue for Grace and other students who cannot get up to the turf field easily. In regards to a class she wanted to take in the fall of 2021, “this past fall I had to drop a class that I needed to take for my major because the professor would not move the class out of the pavilions.” While the pavilions are finally leaving campus and classes are now all indoors, it is outrageous that a student at SMC has to drop a class because the school could not provide accommodations.
When asked: what was the biggest problem she faced that was caused by SMC’s lack of accessibility? Grace responded by saying, “The lack of awareness of certain accessibility things on campus and not much communication with me directly.” There needs to be more acknowledgment on the campus of how Saint Mary’s campus is not accessible for all of its students.
Students with food allergies and medical dietary restrictions have struggled with eating in the dining hall. Lauren Stadt (class of ‘24) has had Celiac Disease for over 15 years, and, as a result, she cannot eat any gluten or anything that has even had cross-contamination with gluten. “On weekends the dining hall does not have ingredients listed, which makes it difficult for me to figure out if I can actually eat there.” She explained. Although the Allergy-Free Zone is supposed to be free of all gluten products, Lauren said that she has come across several things that contain gluten. Something that can cause serious issues unless those students are super vigilant about what they are eating from the Allergy-Free Zone.
While SMC has been trying to make the campus more accessible for all students, they still have a long way to go.
Navigating Life After College
By Ariana Perez
Receiving your degree is a massive accomplishment in life, a testimony to years of dedication and hard work. However, with graduation looming around the corner, many wonder not just in anticipation, but in dread, for what awaits them.
Regardless of whether a job or internship is lined up, many graduates are wondering, “What now?” as they prepare to leave the institution they have studied and built their social lives around for years. As a result, post-graduation depression is not an uncommon occurrence for graduates. While the phenomenon is largely not talked about, it’s a pattern that is too important to ignore. The reality is that many graduates have been students for 20 years, and struggle with losing that aspect of their identity as they transition into working adults. Moreover, there’s the sudden loss of communal space that college campuses provide. Suddenly, it becomes harder to connect with peers and friends, especially when you’re acclimated to living close and hanging out together in the college’s surrounding area. Not to mention the struggle to find a job and pave a future that aligns with your degree and experience.
All in all, graduates may plummet in their mental health, falling into what is essentially a quarter-life crisis in their struggle to navigate life after college. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to prevent post-graduation depression.
Below are some recommendations for adjusting to life after college:
Keeping yourself busy is critical. Whether or not you’ll be traveling, applying for jobs, or working right away, you are inevitably going to have some form of free time that needs to be filled as you develop a completely new routine that doesn’t revolve around class. New or old, exercise or art related, hobbies provide a healthy outlet to destress to shape your day. Engaging in hobbies releases dopamine within the brain, assisting in the improvement of mental health. Setting goals for yourself is important as well. Career planning can be a daunting task, setting achievable goals for yourself allows you to make progress each day without feeling overwhelmed.
By Remy Zerber
Visiting Opinion Columnist
The “Parental Rights in Education” bill is a bill that was passed in Florida that bans teachers from discussing LGBTQ issues and supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, asexual, or transgender people in grades K-3. The text states that teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity would be banned “in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards” (2022, Laviettes). It would create mistrust in schools and in classrooms. “First, opponents say a broad restriction particularly aimed at sexual orientation and gender identity will have a chilling effect on teachers — making educators question what kind of dialogue students can have with trusted adults in the classroom.” It will also make kids not trust teachers. Kids should be able to trust their teachers with their secrets (2022, Wilson). Proponents call it the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which is its official name, while opponents call it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It was passed on Feb 17, 2022. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is a step back in progress towards having freedom and acceptance for all people.
Children and their education are being affected by this bill. My friend Dylan who is a student here said, “I think the “Don’t Say Gay” bill prevents our youth from being exposed to important matters regarding identity and poses a major safety and mental health concern for our LGBTQ+ youth.” Mental health is important because it is what keeps people going. Brains are what control our bodies, so it is important to make sure they are healthy. The people who are in agreement with the bill are saying that “...early exposure to sexual content can harm young students. It has been linked to poor “mental health, life satisfaction, sexual behavior and attitudes, and pornography-viewing patterns in adulthood.” (2022, Eckerd) Proponents of the bill think that they are protecting kids from harmful sexual content by limiting their exposure to discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity at a young age, but all they are actually doing is preventing kids from learning about LGBTQ issues early in their life. Dylan, a student who is against the bill said, “The bill will prevent youth from talking about the identities of themselves and their loved ones. The classroom will become a space that isn’t respectable towards inclusivity and the notion that “love is love.” It should be a safe space for all students. “In a statement, [Sen. Joe Harding of Florida] explained that “the exaggeration and misrepresentation in reporting about the amendment was a distraction; all the amendment did was create procedures around how, when and how long information was withheld from parents so that there was a clear process and kids knew what to expect.” (2022, Rosica) LGBT kids already face enough issues like bullying, high suicide and depression rates, and low representation. “Charlee Corra Disney, the heir of Disney who recently came out as transgender, said, “I had very few openly gay role models,” Corra, 30, said. “And I certainly didn’t have any trans or nonbinary role models. I didn’t see myself reflected in anyone, and that made me feel like there was something wrong with me.” (2022, Yurcaba) Dylan, a student against the bill, said, “My worry about the bill is that it will shadow LGBTQ+ history from part of our generation and that it will increase suicide rates, which are already high amongst LGBTQ+ individuals. I think that this bill is a huge step back in progress and is a threat to the future and well-being of America.” “[Openly gay republican Carlos Guillermo Smith] cited research that LGBTQ youth are four times "more likely to seriously consider, make a plan for, or attempt suicide than their peers AND that at least one LGBTQ youth aged 13–24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the U.S." (2022, Rosica) This bill is damaging to LGBT children’s (or kids who are LGBT but don’t know it yet) mental health because once this bill goes into effect, they will feel like they are different and not good enough for society.
Opponents of the bill say that it is just homophobia. It is a shame that more states are considering passing a “don’t say gay” bill. Andrew Sullivan, a British-American author, wrote “a flurry of red states are now beginning to follow in the footsteps of Florida and shut down instruction in critical queer and gender theory in the kindergarten through primary school years” (2022, Sullivan) in an article for The Weekly Dish. It is too bad that other states are going to shut down queer instruction in kindergarten through third grade. If children don’t grow up believing in LGBTQ rights, they will probably be homophobic adults. Dylan said, “Other states have already begun to look into implementing the bill. So yes, I see it as a huge threat that will spread to other states.” States like Mississippi and Arkansas have already put restrictions on transgender people so I wouldn’t be surprised if they followed Florida’s lead in passing a “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Everyone should be treated equally. This bill is unfair to kids that identify with the LGBTQ community. Everyone should be free to be who they are and express their individuality without fear of rejection or being outed. I think students should be allowed to learn about the LGBTQ community in kindergarten through third grade because the younger they are exposed to these issues, the more comfortable they will be with them and the less likely they will be homophobic.
Florida has made a mistake and accidentally regressed in progress towards freedom and equality for all people with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill is very damaging for students and teachers alike in schools. The ideas are spreading to other places, taking many parts of the country backward.
A look into the slim course offerings at SMC
Opinion Section Editor
Academic excellence and inclusion are two of the most important tenets of the Saint Mary’s College community; however, the course offerings have declined over the past few years. When it is essential to promote classes that best support the whole student, how can a college say that it is preparing its students for the real world?
Looking at the course offerings for next semester, there are 492 courses offered at Saint Mary’s, and according to their site, SMC has 40 majors in total. Some, such as Women and Gender Studies, have three courses offered in the fall, along with Ethnic Studies.
Given the lack of attention to diverse majors, how can change at SMC occur when students are not given options to learn more about America that accepts all parts of our history, one that showcases the diversity of SMC, which we still need to strive towards more. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we must understand what our political and educational leaders are doing and what their motivations behind it are. One must ask, why is there such a significant reduction in classes, and who takes ownership of this problem?
The classes that are missing in the fall are important to notice because they have negative ramifications for students looking to graduate in a timely manner. There are only seven Seminar classes in the fall, an essential class, however, Spring 2022 had seven Seminar classes. Specifically, Biology, Microbiology, and Genetics are either reduced or not offered, and these are foundational classes for the Biology major. Furthermore, the English department is offering limited classes as well, with ten sections devoted to Composition, limited Creative Writing options, and no class for the Authors and Genre requirements.
The major with the most classes is the Performing Arts Department with 33 classes. The major encompasses music and theatre and it is understandable why there are a lot of classes. However, how does it make sense not to spread the funds in a more equitable way, one that understands the stresses of students needing to fulfill their requirements to graduate?
From the Spring to the fall semester, there is almost a 200 class reduction, which is curious given where SMC spends their money.
Some may ask what the solution is to this problem, and the first answer is to increase the enrollment so that there are more students to serve and more classes to be offered. Although this is a logical conclusion, we must ask ourselves how currently enrolled students are treated. Without access to classes that are needed for graduation, there is a sense that students are working so hard for something, a degree, and there are barriers to getting something they have worked so hard for.
I like to think of the fall semester as the obligatory semester of transition, of breaking out of a routine set by three months living under the grueling summer heat and setting yourself up for the school year. In other words, it's a semester of first and new experiences. Whether it’s new classes, new professors, new roommates, or maybe even your first job or first internship, the fall semester is a major period for fresh beginnings.
As a transfer student at Saint Mary’s, there were a lot of firsts for me during the fall semester. I went from two semesters of zoom classes to finally living on campus and attending classes with actual people I only previously knew as boxes on a screen.
Surprisingly, I was fairly well prepared for living independently and setting my own routine. However, what I was not prepared for was figuring out how to juggle a social life with academics. A late bloomer, introverted, and naturally anxious, I’ve always struggled with socializing effectively. Not to mention that when it comes to schoolwork I tend to get tunnel vision. Never one to wait till the last minute to do anything, my homework often took precedence over going to campus events and hanging out with other people.
My schedule didn’t help either, with a senior capstone on top of three other classes that demanded a lot of reading that I wasn’t willing to skim or skip, I felt major pressure to do everything to the fullest extent. Looking back, as someone about to graduate it wasn’t ideal, with the whole semester feeling like one major adjustment period. A good chunk of my semester was spent writing, reading, and researching in the library like a hermit, October through November, telling myself that I just needed to get through one more week and the stress would wear off.
That’s not to say there weren’t any good times sprinkled into the emotionally messy cake that was the fall semester. Between the transfer student A’s game, and the Intercultural Center’s dance Bring Back the 90’s, there were a couple amazing moments. These minor events improved my mental health and were my first insights into the importance of socializing and getting out beyond my dorm and library.
Thankfully, things improved greatly with the coming of the spring semester, with a lighter load and different mindset I felt more open to the experiences Saint Mary’s had to offer, including actually having a social life. Even if it was just a quick late night dinner, drinks at Roundup, or a jog around Moraga, it was a world of a difference compared to last semester. Compared to the fall the events the spring semester offered seem to explode in amount and variety, piquing my interest and attention. The student-run events were spectacular, from the APASA Night Market to the Cultural Nights. But the one event that stands out the most to me still was the Angel Island excursion offered by CAB. Though the original event promised a hike and got sidetracked by the weather, I still got to ride a ferry for the first time and explored a bustling San Francisco farmer’s market with a friend, heading back to campus with a free book and free lunch.
This all led to a major improvement in my mental health, getting more involved with clubs made me realize just how greatly they can improve your social life, and how academics shouldn’t be overly prioritized, since socializing is equally as important for developing into a well rounded adult.
Overall, my time at Saint Mary’s may have been brief, and the lessons I learned may have come a little too late, but I’m thankful for the good memories I was able to make in the short time I was here.
Madison Sciba '24,