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A poem on imposter syndrome.

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How My Writing Cured My Student’s Impostor Syndrome

5 minutes of compassionate verbiage with a good heart requires no effort

Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

As a Project Reviewer at Udacity, my job is to help students pass the projects to complete the Nanodegree on time.

When a project doesn’t qualify to pass ( more on this later ), then my crucial position is to help the student understand everything that needs improvement.

Additionally, it is equally important to show them how to update the project by giving them morale boost for the next attempt.

The technical support is also there. What did you think? Am I a sage? Not yet, buddy!

A concise overview of the project review workflow

A set rubric evaluates a project. Say, there are ten specifications. If a student fails even a single spec in the rubric, then the project is sent back with a careful review with marked criteria to improve. The student will know how many areas they need to pay attention to in the next submission.

Now here, in the feedback ( project review ) phase, is where the writing becomes the light bearer.

The project review is in the full-text form with some screenshots to give a visual cue.

I only have words to encourage the student in taking the necessary steps in improving his work.

Have a good heart to see the magic of words

You know the obstacle when I talk about online text communication. If you’re not seeing the person’s face, you’re missing the body language, which is vital for a lively conversation. There is also no sense of touch, sound or eye contact.

But we have a good heart, right? I trust my intention from the core of my soul. I do my best in giving the proper guidance the student needs. It is because of a practical reason from hard-earned lessons.

Back in August 2017, when I enrolled in my first Nanodegree at Udacity after facing backlash from the entire offline community of friends ( family and society also chipped in for an acid impedance! ), I suffered way harder than my students. Impostor syndrome was just the tip of the iceberg for me.

Self-doubt ate me from inside before I secure my first internship to see a smile on my face after six months of consistent efforts. Every day I battled with myself into hard-work to achieve my career goal. Running the unconventional path requires a lot of persistence.

I’m a self-taught teacher learning the most from my worst mistakes. I’m more of a mentor you can say.

If I’ve gone through such dark times when no one in the world was supporting me ( not even my family ), then I can’t let anyone give up while I’m present, ever. That’s why I go unexpected lengths to explain people about how to find good in everything and turn the tables of negativity.

Curing the impostor syndrome

The same extra mile I mentioned above, I followed this approach in a recent project review. I had no idea what the student was going through. I just assumed his stress with everything that’s happening right now. Especially if he’s a college student struggling with fees, he might be affected by a wave of anxiety.

You know the nervosity while anticipating criticism for your work. Didn’t get my point? No problem! Hang on. Now the truth will burn a little. To feel the nervosity, recall one of your negative project reviews, or devastating code review or some terrible job interview. Sorry if the last one hurt! I warned you about the burn.

What I have to provide here in the student’s case was constructive criticism. I wanted the student to feel belonged that we Mentors and Project Reviewers at Udacity are here to help him succeed.

The unexpected positive feedback from the student

After I gave my careful review, the student gave me this feedback:

Screenshot by Author

This feedback is going in my praise journal. Whenever I feel down and/or want to quit writing, I look at such responses. It just sparks a legion of positive energy!

I’ve savoured more feedbacks like the one I shared above. Many of my readers have given me support with their feedback. I can even write a blog with just positive affirmations everyone gave me. In half a year, I am set for a book.

But I was curing a person’s impostor syndrome! Now, this is the most visceral magic my words have done until now. I’ve healed someone, which is my small contribution to humanity. I am doing it every single day. It helps me have a peaceful sleep knowing that someone is happy because of me.

I will remember this student’s response forever. If I can heal someone with just my words, then imagine what a deep emotional therapy I would give to anyone who opens up to me! I’ve helped some of my friends this way, strangers alike! I want to do it more.

Final words

Words have the power to change anyone’s day. One curse word can turn off your whole day. One positive affirmation will help you stay on track.

When done with pure intention, these positive affirmations last forever. They become a strong memory that is hard to forget because I know this from experience — kindness is contagious.

Show your kind behaviour, and you’ll receive an army of it as a return. You won’t be able to handle the positivity. I sometimes attain spirituality this way when positivity goes uncontrolled. There is so much power in the present time.

I am ending this post with a warm quote I realised that sounds like the Law of Attraction.

“The world gives to the giver and takes from the taker.”

This blog belongs to a series of posts I am publishing on a daily streak. Day 21 and 100 were the first two target. The next one is 150. Today is day 118. Here is the first blog that started the streak.

Thank You for Reading! See you tomorrow!

~ Sanjeev


How My Writing Cured My Student’s Impostor Syndrome was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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