Afraid to be Seen

Recently I’ve been particularly aware of a phenomenon that occurs when I go out to study with friends; we don’t talk or collaborate much at all. And if we do talk it’s always about something unrelated to school or just a brief question about what we’re learning. Working and learning in groups, to my understanding, is a great way to improve one’s mastery over the material. It requires us to think critically and understand the material so we can talk about it appropriately and it allows us to find flaws in our thinking and logic. And it’s for these reasons that I think I have an aversion studying collaboratively.

It’s the same reason why I don’t like getting cold-called to answer a question in class, or the same reason I don’t like to get singled out in any activity, even those I’ve been assured to be proficient in.

I’m afraid to be seen. I’m afraid to expose myself as the fraud that I know myself to be. I don’t belong here. Someone must have made a mistake.

Those are the thoughts that would play in my head, and having been around other med students for over a year now I know that a lot of other people have these thoughts too.

The thing is though, most of the people I’ve met here are brilliant and compassionate and definitely deserve to be here, and it’s low-key upsetting to me when I see them devalue themselves or be self-deprecating*, because if they saw what I see they wouldn’t be so hard on themselves, regardless of how ginormous their Anki queue is or the number of practice questions they get wrong on UWorld.

Recognizing this in others has helped me cultivate self-compassion and also has helped me shift me perspective on my imposter syndrome. It’s ok to feel behind, it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to feel like I am not enough, but I am here for a reason, and even if someone did make a mistake and I got in on accident, so what? Wallowing in that is not going to do me any good, I am here now and I will prove to them and to myself that I belong.

*I also think it’s a cultural thing to be self-deprecating nowadays ’cause no one wants to be seen as that arrogant asshole who thinks they’re hot shit, but we gotta find a balance ’cause this whole thing of competing about who is more behind or who has the most work to do is also a bit annoying and also ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One thought on “Afraid to be Seen”

  1. Wow, Niko–thank you for my being able to understand you a bit more. You are an amazing human being and so appreciate your writing. This time, I’m sad to hear you feel that was but love how you were able to begin to turn it around and see things a bit differently. Bravo!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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