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My imposter syndrome has kicked in, big time

(5 Posts)
beyondbelief Fri 22-Apr-16 16:35:20

Last week had the decision on my first ever journal submission - outright rejection after peer review.

Just found out that one of my undergrad supervisees has failed her dissertation, and one of the others (who I thought was on course for a solid 2:1) has just about scraped a pass in the same assignment. And they were the students I was optimistic about.

Have submitted an EOI for a role at work that I know I could do, and basically been told (in the nicest possible way) 'yeah, unlikely'.

My two favourite colleagues are rocketing ahead with their careers, opportunities left right and centre, publications, overseas conferences, etc, while all I seem to do is sit and watch them. They are both 10+ years younger than me.

I've been told I need to develop a PhD proposal in the next year and get funding if I want to be taken seriously. I can't even settle on a vague area of interest.

I feel useless, and embarrassed. I feel as if maybe I've actually reached the limit of what I am intellectually capable of and anything more is going to be genuinely impossible for me. Am seriously wondering if I have what it takes to develop an academic career. Any tips for getting out of the low mood and feeling positive about it all?

MedSchoolRat Fri 22-Apr-16 17:42:28

Bat that paper right back at the next journal down in the food chain. Don't dither over it unless the rejecting-journal gave you helpful feedback for revisions. Colleague once had a paper rejected from 13 different journals... it's a well cited paper now.

I don't want to ignore the other issues but don't want to dwell on them either, b/c this is about how you feel not what to do. I can only say, comparison is thief of joy, all that.

beyondbelief Fri 22-Apr-16 18:12:39

Ha, yes you're right about comparison! Tough not to though... I feel as if I've got bright young things on one side and dead wood on the other, and me dithering in the middle getting nowhere fast grin

Encouraging about the paper - 13 times! I know it's all part of the process but it does feel like a kick in the guts at the time. There was some reasonable feedback, but reviewer 2 did the classic 'I think you should've written a paper on this [tenuously related, not actually part of my sphere of practice] subject instead' just think, oh fgs, not helpful.

I worry that I will lose my motivation completely though - I do have a tendency to run and hide as soon as I start feeling less-than-competent, but I want to know how to push through this feeling instead this time.

MedSchoolRat Fri 22-Apr-16 20:16:39

On Facebook do you follow Shit Academics Say? Keeps my spirits up smile.

In academia we are supposed to be age-blind... maybe reach out to the young colleagues full of vim & ask them to be sounding boards with your underperforming students or to help you brainstorm for a PhD idea? No harm in learning from them.

purplepandas Mon 25-Apr-16 20:47:16

beyondbelief, I have felt like you on a number of occasions. Truly. It's only recently that things have started to come together. I agree re the journal submission. For me, making good contacts has helped in terms of research etc. Seems silly but finding good people to work with (productive) but that I actually like is really important. It has taken me a while to figure this out.

Also, go for the small opportunities too in terms of grant funding. I have put in a few small things lately and got some funding. Not going to change the world but it helps to build a picture of you as a credible person to give money to. You probably know all this but it took me a while to reason that starting small (for me) was helpful. I like to do everything at once but it is not possible!

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