UC Davis Student Angie Ni Speaks at TEDxUCDavis eXploration

By Nora Lelivelt

DAVIS – TEDxUCDavis eXploration was a two-day conference held on the weekend of April 10 and 11 and featured eight speakers, including UC Davis student Angie Ni.

Ni is a 4th-year computer science major who presented on Sunday afternoon and spoke about her feelings of being an impostor in professional settings –– a topic many can relate with.

TEDx is a series of self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.

This virtual event, TEDxUCDavis eXploration, was sponsored by the ASUCD and the UC Davis Center for Student Involvement and was organized primarily by UC Davis students.

Ni began her presentation by discussing being valuable and sharing her many doubts about being chosen as the only TEDx student presenter alongside the many renowned influencers and activists.

She further explained how she is currently experiencing impostor syndrome, which is when someone feels they don’t quite belong and have to put up a front to fit in.

Yet, “impostor syndrome is not so much a syndrome, as it is an impostor culture, that deceives everyone into believing that they’re the only ones experiencing it,” Ni said.

Ni proposed a solution to this impostor culture that “isn’t just, ‘be more confident in yourself’ … it’s a solution much more difficult: to not be confident. But instead, be vulnerable, and be confident and comfortable in your vulnerability.”

For an extra challenge, Ni added, “I want you to be vulnerable where you’re not expected to be vulnerable… [because] for the majority of people, it is taboo to get emotional when emotions are not necessary, like in the workplace or any professional or productive setting.”

Leading to the idea that, as a culture, we need to shift the professional environment into one that welcomes the expression of negative emotions, as the current ideal of forced outward positivity and suppressed inward negativity is dangerous.

For example, studies have shown that public sector workers, those who are in jobs demanding positivity in the workplace, are at a high risk of alcoholism, drug abuse and negative health consequences due to increased stress.

Additionally, Ni added, “forced positivity eventually fosters impostor syndrome… [Because] when everyone’s hiding their insecurities, their anxieties, their negative emotions it can feel like you are the only one feeling this way.”

Ni encouraged all of her audience members to begin expressing more emotions, even the negative ones. She said they are normal and healthy to feel, and expressing them should not be discouraged in the workplace.

“When one person expresses their emotions, it allows other people to recognize that maybe they’re not the only ones feeling a certain way,” Ni said.

So, while Ni agreed that there are “some things that should stay between you and your therapist,” by entirely separating the personal and professional life and suppressing negative emotions at work, these two worlds will inevitably collide and result in a cycle of unhappiness.

To listen to Angie Ni’s full presentation and learn more about this event, visit http://www.tedxucdavis.org/exploration-2021.

Additionally, all of the talks and performances will be posted on the official TEDx YouTube channel within a few weeks.

Nora Lelivelt is a fourth-year Cell Biology major at UC Davis, also minoring in Professional Writing and Biodiversity.

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