You have what it takes. At least that’s what you’ve been told. Why is this so hard to believe it then? This lack of self-confidence is in my head today. Feeling that I’m not good enough. It is causing me anxiety. This is known as the impostor syndrome.
To be honest, I don’t feel that I have what it takes to apply to graduate programs. I’ve been studying, doing the work, but somehow it feels that I’m not as prepared as my peers. I feel that I don’t have enough research experience. I feel that I don’t have enough field experience. My grades are not as competitive either. All of these thoughts are present tonight. They arrived uninvited and not with the best intentions.
I wasn’t feeling like this before. I was actually confident about my skills. So why the sudden change? I don’t know yet. That’s why I’m writing about it. I’m trying to see what’s the root of the problem. Let’s try the five whys:
I feel that I am not a good applicant for graduate school.
Because my grades and experiences are not as good as my peers.
Because I had to invest time at my job instead of studying to be able to afford school.
Because I didn’t have other ways to do it.
Because I can only rely on myself.
Because I want to fulfill my goals, and graduate school will get me there.
Doing this exercise helps me see any underlying problems or implicit thoughts. It’s by no means a perfect approach, but it’s simple. You can see that my answers have two central themes. The first one is that I had to sacrifice study time in order to be able to afford school. That thought causes me inner conflict. I feel that I should be studying more, but I have other time commitments. The second theme is that I want to fulfill my goals. This is my intrinsic motivation. The idea of helping others through therapy, teaching, or research moves me. No conflict there.
In short, what I see here is that I’m lacking time efficacy. Perhaps my time is limited, but I can maximize my study time by being deliberate about it. I can be more mindful about my study habits and see how can I get more done with the same amount of time. Feeling that I’m not good enough it’s actually a feeling of lack of time. It makes sense to me. If I had more time, probably my grades would improve, and perhaps I would feel more confident.
All I can do now is the best I can. Even if tonight feels that I don’t have what it takes. After writing about it though, I can see the source of tonight’s anxiety.
Do you feel like you don’t have what it takes? Have you try asking yourself why? Let me know in the comments.