We are our ancestor’s wildest dreams. The epiphany of their achievements and everything they strived to ensure better outcomes for future generations. Many of us are pioneers, achieving what they couldn’t but wanted for their children and their children’s children, and so on. Destined for success, yet we feel as if something is holding us back; a lingering thought in the back of our minds that tells us we are not worthy and should give up.
Throughout my undergraduate journey, I put my head down and got to work. I understood that hard work and determination would get me through all my trials and tribulations of pursuing a medical degree. At least this is what I was told since I was a child. With parents who voyaged from Cape Verde as children, I was conditioned to have this belief. Though they never had the opportunity to pursue a higher education, they instilled a sense of determination in me to achieve the most I could. Success to them simply came from working hard and “wanting it enough”. Within the final few weeks of my undergrad, I started to reflect on my journey as I sought the next part of my journey past college. Amidst my achievements, came a feeling of doubt. This feeling that once would have felt foreign to me suddenly became all too familiar. I felt like an undeserving fraud; someone who doesn’t deserve to be called a doctor. It struck me all at once and lingered throughout my thoughts. “Am I capable of what I wish to become? I don’t deserve to be here”.
Imposter syndrome is our perceived internal struggle of what we wish to achieve but feel we don’t deserve. It happens to all of us. After working so hard for something we have been striving for, there comes a time of self-doubt along the path. We tend to become fixated on reaching certain goals that we forget the progress we’ve made and how far we’ve come. Underlying stereotypes that were once unconscious start to become internalized, bubbling up and overcoming us at once. For what I set myself to achieve, I knew there was a historic underrepresentation of people of color, particularly African American men, in the field of medicine. There are external and internal barriers that are against us. Nevertheless, realize that you deserve everything you’ve been striving for. Realize that where you stand today is the result of your hard work and diligence to achieve what you set yourself out for. There will be moments of self-doubt; it’s all part of the process. Reflect on your progress and see how far you’ve come. Reach out to your fellow peers; they may be experiencing the same feelings. We are not in our journeys alone. Affirmations are vital when coming across these internal barriers. Often it is limitations we impose on ourselves, whether unconscious or not, that make it seem like these achievements are impossible. These are uncharted areas of success. Continue striving to be your best and the rest will follow. We are the pioneers of our ancestors, setting ourselves to accomplish the things never accomplished before in our family lineage.
Blog Post by Nathan Delacth