02 November 2007

Notes on Fisher Files, Sequence II, Episode 1 - Imposter!

A friend of mine complained about feeling inadequate, so I'm writing up some notes on the recent Fisher Files episode entitled "Imposter!"
  • It's OK to feel like an imposter. A little humility is a good thing.
  • But you have to recognize your own self-worth. (As one of my undergrad professors told me, plenty of people will say bad things about you, so why add to that by saying negative things about yourself?)
  • Some advice on how to avoid the trap of getting too down on yourself:
    1. It is easy to make the mistake of lumping a bunch of individual achievements into one. If you take the AND of all the achievements of everyone you know, of course you will lose out since person1 AND person2 AND ... AND personN >> you.
    2. You should realize that other people see you very differently than you see yourself. They remember the great successes that you had in the past and *continue* to recognize them despite the fact that your life may not be going very well this particular day, week, or year. Good work is not forgotten! To get some perspective, think of how you view others.
    3. In academia (unlike many careers), you are often only one brilliant idea away from greatness. If you do something great as a grad student, your work will (usually) not be diminished by your status as a grad student.
    4. Have confidence in what you know. Stop and reflect about all the things you know and can do. Think of all the major milestones you've passed: qualifying exams, getting your undergraduate degree, etc. Those are all significant accomplishments.

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