My last blog post was about Impostor Syndrome and which book I would choose if I lived in a world where books were banned. I discussed my experience with Impostor Syndrome at a predominantly white institution as a first generation Latina. I want to talk a little bit more about my approach to choosing “For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts” by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez.

As a first generation student who grew up in an immigrant household, my parents instilled the importance of education to me from a young age. My father, when he would get home from work, would ensure that I completed my homework before I could have “fun time” (also known as watching tv). If I did not have my homework completed, he would not allow me to watch television until I completed homework. As a child, I knew it was for the best that I completed my homework so I could have the chance to watch tv. As I began learning about worldly issues and experiencing the adversities as a person of color (such as racism), I began to wonder how this world even came to be in the first place. I immersed myself into reading anything that I could get my hands on. I was never into my educational journey until I prompted many questions about the world: “Why is an animal going extinct?” “What does this mean for our ecosystem?” “Can we have economic growth with sustainable resources?”

These were some of the questions I posed to myself before coming into Lehigh. When I got into Lehigh, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I knew my parents and family members were counting on me to do well at school- especially since I am the first person in my immediate family to have advanced this far into academia. Coming into Lehigh, I knew I was invited to eat at the table. One insecurity I found myself having was: it seems like I’m one of the few who did not know everyone was going to wear blue. I was wearing purple. I questioned: because I’m wearing purple, does that mean I’m worthy of being at this table? It seems like a silly analogy to think of- but that’s the way I can describe my experience. I was invited to sit at the table- this institution- where most people came from upper-middle class backgrounds with parents who went to college. I did not fit the mold of the stereotypical student.

One day- when I was feeling the most impostor syndrome ever- I decided to cheer myself up with a coffee at the bookstore. I looked around the aisles of books that I could read. There it was: For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts. I read a page before deciding if I wanted to invest in the book. I decided to purchase it after reading a couple of pages. Since then, the book has been a comforting ice cream on a hot summer day. It is a book I reference when I feel like I need to know my experiences are seen.

Impostor Syndrome is a challenge people will face in spaces that were not traditionally catered for. Women in STEM can face impostor syndrome, BIPOC in predominantly white institutions can face impostor syndrome, low income students can face impostor syndrome in elite, wealthy institutions… a person wearing a dress that is not similar to other dresses can face impostor syndrome at a party. Impostor syndrome is something I know I will deal with sometimes, but understanding and remembering that I am worthy of the spaces I have been invited to, is something I hold closely to myself.


8 thoughts on “IF YOU WERE WONDERING…

  1. I wonder if it’s a sign of awareness, both of oneself (self-awareness) and of the world, to exhibit some symptoms of the imposter syndrome. Socrates, one of the wisest men in our history, said “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Perhaps those who are less aware of how much more they could know, or how much more skilled they could get, are more likely to experiment this imposter syndrome?


    • I think ignorance is bliss! Being self aware of the world and your own identity can take a detrimental turn, especially with Impostor Syndrome. Those who live life without a question of a system, I would argue, find it challenging to process symptoms or experience Impostor Syndrome.


  2. Emily, I so admire your strong and clear post. It is special to hear how your father’s firmness led you on to do what you really wanted. Imposter syndrome does indeed exist in so many situations. I wonder why that can’t be broken.



    • Thank you! I credit my father to motivating me in my education, beyond doing my homework. I think with Impostor Syndrome, especially at elite institutions, there comes a knowledge that one has to know: systems of registration for classes, moving in, financial aid, and getting involved in extracurriculars, beyond clubs. I see some colleges are developing more support for first generation students, but I think there is much more improvement needed to be done! Little activities to help first generation students goes a long way. I think incorporating workshops on career building, class registration, moving in, and financial aid would help a lot!


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