I was going to make this massive upbeat post about starting graduate school, how excited I am, and how proud I am to be the first person in my family to pursue a PhD, or really, to study science at all.
Then I actually went. And now I’m having massive Impostor Syndrome.
In summary, feeling incredibly stupid, overwhelmed, and unprepared is not what I needed heaped on top of the general melancholy I already felt for being utterly alone in a new city. Did I mention I suck at making new friends? Well, I do.
It doesn’t help that all of my grad student friends are telling me to get used to it, because it never goes away. Or that when I’ve tried to confide in some of my fellow first years, they look at me like I’ve sprouted a second head because they totally understand the papers we’re reading. Or that I feel like I can’t even discuss it here on my blog, since apparently everyone in the department knows about it. I say apparently because within five minutes of me showing up to a department event, someone new approaches me and goes, “So, I hear you have a blog!”
I mean, that’s a great thing for people in your new department to read, right? “I have no idea what any of these papers mean, not to mention I’m completely uninterested in them, and I’m not quite sure how I got accepted here anyway.” The whole point of Impostor Syndrome is that you feel like you need to hide your ineptitude. Maybe if I voice my concerns on a popular blog, I’ll be cured!
I just can’t shake the feeling that I don’t know what I’m doing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy science and doing research. And I have about a million different research ideas running through my brain. My problem right now is I think all of my research ideas are surely retarded, which is why no one has thought to do them before (not because, you know, they’re potentially innovative or something). So instead of piping up when someone asks me, I sit quietly and seem totally uncreative and stupid.
It doesn’t help that on top of that, I look back at how much I enjoyed my summer. Right now I would love to do nothing but write books, blog, speak for student groups and conferences… I’m not sure if that’s just me having escapist fantasies, or if that’s what I should actually be doing. I always told myself you need training to be a research scientist, and that you can paint and write books on the side, not the other way around. But then I come home exhausted from a day in the lab, realize I haven’t done any artwork in the last four years and that all of my novels sit half completed, and I wonder if I’m just deluding myself.
Of course, if I tried to make a career out of writing, I’d probably be sitting in my apartment starving, wishing how I could be off in a lab discovering some new aspect of evolution and actually getting a paycheck.
I apologize that this post is so crappily written and without a real point*, but I just needed to think out loud for a bit.
*Ugh, apparently I have Blogger Impostor Syndrome too. Sorry.