You Do Deserve To Be Here

It’s the first day of class and everyone is sitting in the seats they most likely will be in for the next several months. Your new professor does the same introduction you’ve heard a thousand times before and now it’s time for the class to introduce themselves. No big deal, it’s just like you did in undergrad, except the introductions are a little bit more interesting. The first guy worked in Africa for three years, how exciting! The next girl has just moved here after finishing a year internship doing exactly what you want to do. One by one, each person has their own unique background and a slow thought creeps in the back of your head. “What the heck have I been doing?”

This is the feeling I had when I first started my graduate program and it was something that I thought was my problem alone. Obviously I was the mistake, the person who slipped through the cracks in the admission process. Sure, I did really well in undergrad and I feel like I have a passion for what I study, but that can only get you so far. By the end of my first week I was sure that I was doomed to failure. The other people were just so quick to respond to things in the classroom and problem solve the assignments coming our way. To be honest, I was really discouraged. I figured that I was already here so I might as well get through this first trimester.

As the weeks went on, I just kept doing what I was already doing. I went to class, studied and worked at home, and tried to stay on top of things. I also started to finally talk to and get to know the people in my program. One of the greatest feelings I had was when one classmate, who I thought was just the most knowledgeable and cleverest person, addressed me and said she wished she could have my confidence in the classroom. I was shocked! What confidence do I have? I thought that I was just scraping by, but apparently I was doing a well enough job to fool her. The more I talked to people, the more I realized that a lot of us felt the same way — that we were not good enough to do it.

As the trimester rolled through, I started to gain more confidence in my work. I found that although I didn’t know everything, I knew things that other people didn’t and vice versa. We all come from different backgrounds, different undergrad programs, so we each have different strengths. Don’t let your lack in one area overshadow everything else you can do because you do deserve to be where you are. A phrase stuck with me that a friend in another school’s program told me…”fake it til you make it.” Might not be the most assuring advice, but it sure the heck helped me. Eventually you forget how much extra work you think you may be putting in and it just becomes normal.

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