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Power of Fake Confidence: Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome

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I’m excited to introduce the first post in my Wisdom Wednesday segments. Wednesday, hump day, whatever you like to call it is often the time of the week where we’re done. We want Friday to come as soon as possible. These Wisdom Wednesday posts will be my attempt to ignite additional motivation and thought-provoking ideas to get you through your week. I want you to be running past the weekday finish line, not crawling.

One of the first talks I was given in med school was about the impostor syndrome. Basically, as med students and future physicians, we’ll often feel like we’re tricking everyone. We tell ourselves we can’t possibly be smart enough to be a future doc. Our classmates sure fit that bill but not us.

I can tell you as a newly minted third year, that feeling never goes away. No matter how far we climb, we’re still looking at the summit which seems further and further away.

When I was applying to med school I never considered going to my current institution. I didn’t think I was good enough. In fact, I was told by a school administrator that my current scores were likely not high enough for an interview.

It would be easy to doubt my validity. I could think about the other students who could have been selected instead of me. But somehow I’m here.

How do you overcome the impostor syndrome then? Just play along with it. If you don’t believe you belong yet, just fake it until you do.

For example, a child who is constantly told he’s smart and outgoing will begin to believe it. He may not initially excel at everything he does. But the support and praise of others convinces him that his failures are temporary and not reflective of his potential.

Eventually, that child will excel at something. Perhaps he’s great at math or a great writer. Maybe he’s a phenomenal speaker. Regardless the child will succeed.

In all honesty, that child could have easily faced a life of endless failures. If he was not reminded of his potential and instead believed his failures to be attributed to a personal shortcoming, this will also become true.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Each one of us is that child. While we may not routinely be reminded of our potential, understand that it is there. Recognize it each and every day just like the handful of people which did so over your thus far successful journey.

Don’t be that med student in the back of the crowd because you don’t know enough.

Play offense, not defense. While you may fail and look foolish at times, you will progress faster than the student who fails to risk anything until they’re completely ready.

The only person who thinks we’re an impostor is ourselves. With time this self-conflict will resolve. Eventually, you will realize the praise of others to be true.

Until then, fake by being the person you one day want to be. You’re likely not very far.

Hope you enjoyed the first post of Wisdom Wednesday! Now go conquer the remaining days of your week. Remember sprint past the finish line. No crawling allowed.

If there is something specific you’d like me to address in a future blog post, comment below or email me at [email protected]

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If you’re a first or second-year medical student wanting guidance on how to succeed in medical school, read my book, The Preclinical Guide. I provide all the tips I wish I knew day one of medical school. Check out the book here.

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Until next time…

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