Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Note on Imposter Syndrome

I suffer from Imposter Syndrome and, if you’re applying to or enrolled in medical school, there’s a good chance you do too.

What is imposter syndrome, you ask? Good question. I went to an application seminar at UT Southwestern where an MS2 told us about it. Basically, it means: 1) before you get in, you’re afraid you don’t deserve to be accepted, and 2) once you’re in, you think that they’re going to find out they made a mistake.

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I’m a pretty confident person, but Imposter Syndrome got me bad, both before and during med school. And #2 may sound kind of funny, but every (read: EVERY) person I talked to this year experienced those feelings when school started.

The key to surviving Imposter Syndrome is realizing that it’s a feeling, not a fact. Keep moving through the steps in your plan, even when you don’t believe you’ll succeed.

What motivated me to keep going? Carl Jung writes, “[vocation] acts like the law of God from which there is no escape.”[1] A vocation is a calling—it evokes—it’s not just an occupation that keeps you busy. I don't know about you, but I know that medicine is my calling. If it wasn't my calling, I would be doing something MUCH easier.

When I was studying for the MCAT last summer, I stuck a Post-it on my mirror that said: “God doesn’t call the qualified; God qualifies those who are called.” (It doesn’t really matter whether you believe in God or not; just substitute “the universe,” “medicine,” or anything that works for you.) This quote helped me during the moments when I felt totally unprepared.

The point is: you’re not prepared. But by the time you get there you will be. So take some deep breaths and relax.

[1] “The Development of Personality,” Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 17.

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