They’re all going to see how stupid you are

No matter how far you’ve come or how much you’ve accomplished, there will always be that voice in the back of your head telling you that you’ll fail. That voice will get stronger during moments where you are weakest. It will recall all of the failures in your life and remind you of how inadequate you were at those points in time. That voice will come to life and convince you that the same thing will happen again, that you will experience those exact feelings of failure all over again. Why? Because that’s just who you are. That’s all you’re capable of. No matter how hard you work and how hard you try, you’ll always end up cycling back to being that scared little girl, sitting at the center of all three lab directors, not knowing how to answer questions that supposedly first years could answer.

It’s been years. I’ve already walked across the stage and collected that piece of paper that tells me I’ve earned an education. I’ve been admitted to a graduate program. My current supervisor believes I have what it takes to transfer to the PhD program. I’ve made good progress on my project, and am working on my publication plan. The list goes on and on. I can keep reminding myself of all the things I have done and how much I have learned since that time, but the only memory that stands out is being interrogated and being made a fool in front of all those lab directors.
My PhD transfer presentation is in a few days and I can’t shake that feeling out of myself. It’s as if the memory is on a lapse, replaying over and over again as I try to prepare. “It’s going to happen again.” “You don’t know anything.” “They’re all going to see how stupid you are.”

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