Imposter Syndrome: Overcoming and Realizing That You Belong
Honestly, embarking on the journey to become a physician is hard. I’ve questioned myself far too many times than I should. Am I smart enough to be a physician? Will I be able to stand firm against my peers? Imposter syndrome came and took me like a thief in the night. As a first-generation college graduate and minority student, I did not have the luxury to be equipped with a roadmap of how to navigate through my academic journey. All of my success is owed to God’s unrelenting favor and many trials and errors.
Instead of me using this moment to pound facts into you, I’ll share things that I do to help minimize my imposter syndrome...
1. Write a note to yourself. After my first medical school exam (yes life got real that soon) I wrote myself a letter, dated and signed it. It was a reminder to myself to stop doubting my abilities. God answered my prayers to be in this position so he has equipped me to succeed in this position as well. I posted it on my bedroom door so that I could read it every day.
2. Find a mentor. Finding someone who has reached a similar goal that you have is key to this process. Don’t be afraid to send out an email or Instagram/twitter DM. We live in a digital world now. A lot of people in medicine are extremely friendly and we want to help. It also allows you to see that you are not alone in this journey.
3. TALK TO SOMEONE. I have learned how to embrace this. For almost all of my life, I’ve let my worries manifest internally. Once I started opening up, my life got a little easier. Your support system will carry you on your good and bad days. It’s so important to have a genuine group of people in your corner.
4. To do lists. It always feels like you can do more each day. I write down realistic goals for the day and check them off as I complete them. This helps me to celebrate small victories for the day and also not to beat myself up for feeling like there is more to do.
5. Join an organization. I earned a position on my school’s student run clinic E-board. The clinic serves predominantly black patients in underserved areas. This helped me to remember my “why” on days that I got overwhelmed or began to doubt myself.
So, please, keep pushing and grinding. You are more than capable of reaching your goals. With proper work ethic, you will succeed.
Remember, be kind to yourselves. So far you’ve survived 100% of your worst days.
Breanna Thomas, MPH