A lot of graduate students/applicants, it seems, suffer from "imposter syndrome." Typically, these are bright, high-achieving students, who nonetheless doubt their ability, and this most likely stems from the competitive and selective nature of grad. school and academia. However, how can one tell if they're suffering from "imposter syndrome" or if they're really not cut out for graduate school/academia?
The difference that I see (between myself and these students) is that their professors believe in them, wrote them letters of recommendation, plus they have good research skills (even if they don't see it in themselves, others do). Despite doing well in my coursework (which doesn't even indicate much given rampant grade inflation), I could tell that most of my professors lacked confidence in me (at least I think). For example, when I initially applied to my alma mater last year (before everything happened with the professor), one of my other professors wrote me a letter of recommendation that seemed almost sarcastic in its praise. For example, he described a paper I wrote as being among the "top 10 papers he's ever seen from a student in his 20 years of teaching." The paper, however, was only around 10 pages (that was the requirement), plus I used some dubious sources (i.e. newspaper and online articles etc.) because I was in a rush. (There were no requirements on sources, and I received an A on the paper, but once one gets to upper division classes, they should know to only use scholarly sources.) Thus, this couldn't have been one of the top ten papers he's ever read. (Or he's taught some pretty weak students!) (And he didn't even qualify it with "top 10 undergraduate papers," which also confirms that he was probably being sarcastic.)
This is only one example, but I can tell that others don't believe in me. So I wanted to ask if I could be suffering from imposter syndrome or if I'm one who really isn't cut out for academia? That might be too much of an individualistic question, so I'll instead ask how can one tell if they're suffering from imposter syndrome or if they really are an "imposter?"
Edit- Re: the above mentioned paper, the requirements were to use 2-3 sources. I did have a couple of scholarly articles but wanting to far exceed the requirements,and given a short amount of time, I turned to weaker/less credible sources. In retrospect, I would have been better off using fewer but higher quality sources.
Edit- Even if no one believes in me (including the professor I admired), I'm still going to pursue graduate school. However, it's disheartening to see others receive support/encouragement whereas everyone seems to doubt me. I feel that I received high grades due to grade inflation but these professors, who can recognize aptitude in others, don't see it in me. I don't know if that's a product of my anxiety or if I'm really just not "smart" enough for graduate school, but I'm going to give it my best shot.
For what it's worth, some of my research ideas have been received positively (i.e my proposal being accepted to the conference, feedback from the new potential advisor etc.). So maybe there's some hope for me, but it's still nerve-wracking seeing how much more competitive others seem, and I wanted to know if this was imposter syndrome or if I'm an "imposter?"