10 minutes ago
Imposter syndrome says I am a fraud, a phony or inadequate. There are many contributing factors in medicine, notably a culture of perfectionism. The irony is, greatness is possible, but perfection is unattainable. This realization (an inability to achieve perfection) may cause self-doubt, anxiety and even depression. Every step of the way, you look around and realize you are surrounded by exceptional individuals. Rather than feel a sense of belonging, imposter syndrome says how did I make the cut? It had to be a mistake. No, it wasn’t a mistake, you belong.
Imposter syndrome is not a phenomenon unique to the Black community, but it manifests in ways that presents unique challenges to the Black community. A simple look at U.S. medical school class photos will likely illustrate the staggering reality that our community lags far behind in terms of representation, especially for Black men. There are many systemic, cultural and psychosocial hurdles that Black people must overcome and it starts well before medical school.
For those struggling with imposter syndrome, YOU belong. I belong. WE belong. As a premed I was told the odds were against me and that I should consider changing career paths. I was one of less than five Black med students in a class of roughly 100. I’ve been called nurse countless times. At times, I’ve questioned if I know enough. These are just a few examples of situations along the way that allow doubt to creep in and may fuel imposter syndrome. However, don’t let it bring you down.
Imposter syndrome affects us all. We aren’t here by accident. Find your purpose. Know your limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Stay humble. Humility may save lives, pride endangers them. Avoid measuring your success against others. Each of our paths is unique. We cannot walk in our own destiny, navigating down someone else’s path. Don’t let others dictate what you can and cannot do. Set your standards high, if you fall short, reflect, learn and keep going.
Thank you randdiabmd for inviting me to share my thoughts on the IAmNotAnImposter campaign.