My heart pounds as I open up our digital academic tool, to view my physiology grades…
not only was it 10% lower than the average, but an incredible 20% lower than my grades from the previous semester.
I feel my face flush with heat,
my breath stops,
and my eyes start to well up.
This is not what I had expected, considering I studied for a full week leading up to this exam. Every time I took an exam and received the scores, I thought I was unworthy for feeling upset, because my thoughts did not match my circumstances. Everything around me was a constant reminder of how fortunate I was. In fact, the semester before consisted of me reaping the fruits of my efforts, but something went wrong. Even though I was healthier than my past, my first semester as a podiatric medical student consisted of unhealthy habits to perform my best. I analyzed the most effective study methods to apply, but I defaulted to studying with little sleep, isolating myself and feeding on processed snacks.
When the spring semester began, I was suddenly more involved, attending more events like the ACFAS conferences. Although I thoroughly enjoyed attending events like these, in return, it threw me off my regular schedule of studying material daily for repetition. Even afterwards, I was further thrown off, as I switched overnight to a new 8 hour sleeping schedule, exercising daily for 1 hour, and forcing myself into group studying. The change at the time seemed minuscule, but as I was not yet acclimated to the new lifestyle, my grades took a hit. Evidently, I felt greatly dejected, since my grades were poor no matter how much I studied, even though I thought I comprehended the material. It became a dark cycle, as I would see my score on an exam, witness the excitement around me of classmates succeeding during the extracurricular activities I would partake in.
At that point, I convinced myself I was unintelligent.
At that point, I convinced myself I was unintelligent. Every exam that came, I pushed myself past my limits for and would somehow encounter similar exam scores. My anxiety rose and my fear of not being enough was at an all-time high. Even when I performed well on my exams, I constantly couldn’t hold back from comparing myself to my peers. After the semester, I reflected and faced a true challenge. In podiatric medical school, if I allow imposter syndrome to happen, the overwhelming sense of self-doubt regardless of my achievements can easily overtake me. I took steps to remedy the underlying obstacle. I now ensure that I gently excuse myself, especially if I do not abide by a strict schedule but maintains my sleep, activity levels, and study sessions with spaced repetition. I know that actively engaging in the podiatry community to further educate myself or get hands-on experience refuels me, so I use that as my period to relax and socialize.
I no longer fear my performance but instead, I look forward to understanding the material thoroughly.
Most importantly, I remind myself daily what I am grateful for and focus on my strengths. By doing this, I am able to continue doing what I know works best for me, and understand that my pace does not make me inadequate in any way. I no longer fear my performance but instead, I look forward to understanding the material thoroughly. My morale and confidence have greatly improved, along with my grades. Moving forward, I now understand that self-confidence and self-care are the main pillars of success. I now place the same amount of effort into my mental health as I do my academics. In fact, I am grateful for my experiences, because I have evidence of why the advice we are constantly given is important to follow and now encourage my peers to recognize the same.
Podiatry Medical School – Imposter Syndrome…
Student, Lifestyle, Short Story
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