Getting past insecurities
1. Realize that your fears are mostly lying to you.
Perhaps your insecurities are based in facts (i.e. I don’t have much quantitative coursework in my background, I have a low GMAT score, I’ve been out of school for six years, etc.) but your insecurities arise when you start future-tripping about how those neutral facts are going to negatively affect your life. Yes, it is true that you are the oldest person in your class. No, it is not true that this means you will be socially ostracized and unable to keep up in the classroom. That is a lie that your fear is telling you. Recognize it as a lie based on a kernel of harmless truth, and do not continue to feed your anxiety with more lies.
2. Realize that admissions committees do not admit people by mistake.
If you got into the school, the admissions committee believes that you are capable of doing the work and excelling in the academic community you’ve been admitted to. You have not been admitted by mistake. In fact, I think it’s a strange sort of egotism to apply for something and then doubt the positive outcome of you putting forth an application. Admissions committees benefit from the combined experience and perspective of multiple people. There may have in fact been one or two people on the committee who did not think you belonged at the school, but enough of the right people did believe you belong, so stop thinking you know better than people who read 500+ applications every year, and accept the painful truth that you got into the school you applied to—even if you don’t think you deserve to have gotten in.
3. Realize that people lie—a lot.
Whereas you cried, sweated, and bled over your essays, the next guy says that he threw together an application in a few hours the night before the deadline. You think that he must be a genius and you must be a mouth-breathing imbecile. Wrong. He is lying to make himself look effortlessly high-achieving, and you are falling into the trap of believing him. This silliness will continue on in grad school when some of your classmates say that they spent 20 minutes on last night’s finance homework that took you two migraine-inducing hours. Yes, certain subjects will be far easier for some people than they are for you, but the people who are breezing through grad school are few and far between and you better believe that they aren’t sitting around at the pub bragging about it. Bragging often comes out of insecurity, so understand that the people lying to you about their effortless genius are probably struggling just as much as you are—maybe not academically but perhaps in making new friends, keeping their long-distance relationship intact, or securing interviews for summer internships.
4. Give yourself some space and time to be insecure—and then shut that shit down.
Insecurity breeds more insecurity, fear, and anxiety. You have full permission and my encouragement to be as vulnerable as you need to be. By that, I mean share your fears, insecurities, and anxieties with people you know, love, and trust—people who have earned your vulnerability—and then resolve to trust that all is well, all will be well, and you’ll end up exactly where you belong doing what you should be doing. You don’t need to apologize to anyone for existing, for being imperfect, or for getting closer to your dreams even though you are flawed. Insecurity is what happens when we start and then continually doubt our right to exist and thrive. We can only sit in insecurity for so long before it starts to eat away at our sense of self and clarity of purpose. I find it helpful to put boundaries around my insecurity. I get to cry on the phone with my fiance tonight about whatifmyplansdon’tworkout, but I will not cry about it tomorrow. Whether it’s a few days, a few hours, or even just a few minutes, go ahead and be insecure. Think all the bad thoughts. Then let them go and be free.