Welcome to the spotlight on PhD realities. This post is inspired by a recent discussion I had with Lauren regarding the feeling of imposter syndrome as PhD students. Imposter syndrome (as defined from Wikipedia of course haha) "is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud”."
This was a surprising thought to hear from her as she is someone that I view has successfully transitioned from academic research into industry as a life sciences Business Development manager. A similar biotechnology career trajectory I aspire to. She was sharing a story of being in review/board meetings and having a question to ask, but refraining as she thought they were silly. The old "Oh but everyone else probably already knows”… only to have someone else ask a similar question to what she was thinking...
We realised that as PhD students during our program we constantly have thoughts of not knowing enough and not being good enough. A 3 to 4 year PhD degree is a long period which then ingrains this into our thoughts. I guess this feeling stems from being student trainees, but simultaneously working and engaging with more learned leaders in our fields. We feel our supervisors/professors know everything in the field and we are still newbies. But realise they actually don’t. You are the expert in your area, and you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself forward and confidently be the face of your work. And sure there may be a time where you ask a silly question (facepalm), looking like an idiot is short lived but not knowing lasts a lifetime. No one can known everything about everything, don’t forget the network you have around you that have expertise in other niche areas which you can ask upon for help.
As Dr. Sam Prince said, “I think there’s just such an abundance of people who can help you. We live in a scarcity concept where we feel like there’s only one person in the world who can help you achieve your dream, there’s probably 10 of them and they are probably sitting in this cafe right now.”
Know as PhD students we are in a group of ~1% people in the world, THE WORLD! We are highly intellectual people that have a lot to offer back to the world to create new knowledge and change. So keep asking, keep learning and keep working. Action of knowledge is power. And contrary to your own thought, YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH NOW!
You can take it as insight, or you can take it as Just BS!