Although things have been crazy the past week or so, but I have been reading with interest the posts about the Imposter Syndrome. The first I ran across was from Scicurious, and then Dr. Isis (and many others by now, but I don't have time to link to everyone--SORRY! I think there is a Carnival going on, so hopefully all the posts will be collected there.)
I have found that starting my own lab is both awesome and terrifying. Is this IS? I don't know. There is nothing more exciting than getting the keys to your own lab. But shit gets real very quickly when you are standing, alone, in an empty lab. Just a big room with empty shelves. So quiet. And empty. You can maybe hear the clock ticking. It's lonely. It is still hard for me to believe that I am not going to crash and burn in this job. My lab is still in the process of getting going. The room isn't empty anymore...but we haven't put out a paper from my group yet. I'm still learning how to be a good mentor. This is especially terrifying, because I have some really good students. If they fail it will be largely on me. My stomach churns thinking about this.
When I start freaking out too much, I try to take a deep breath. Maybe have a drink. And realize that, in the end, all I can do is try. Do the best I can. Write grants, interact with students, try to get experiments done so we can write papers. To carry on Sci's sports analogy (because I like to run, so it works for me): this job is like a marathon. You have to just keep going, even if it feels like you are running into a wall. In the end, it doesn't really matter if you finish first or last. As long as you finish. I don't look at it like a race against my competitors. When I race, I'm trying to beat myself. What is the absolute best I can do? If I end the race feeling like I really did give it my best shot, then I won. I am trying to have a similar attitude for my race down the tenure track. It can sometimes be very hard sometimes to NOT feel like a failure. Or that I am letting someone down. But then I remind myself that I am leaving it all on the track. If I don't make it to the finish line, it won't be because I held something back.