We all suffer from different types of fears, self-doubts and insecurities. Especially when we are about to do something new. And commonly these negative thoughts center around wondering whether you are good enough.
Whether you are applying for a postdoc or PI position, considering starting a PhD, or thinking about leaving science for pastures new, I’m sure that that question will pop into your mind more than once and probably lead to a train of negative thoughts…”they’ll never pick me, there must be a lot of people with more publications than me”, “I don’t know why I even try”, “they are going to laugh at my CV”, “maybe I’m not cut out for this”, “I’ll never be really good like X is”.
Of course, that kind of thinking will make your projects or goals dead before they even have a chance to see the light. It is perfectly normal to feel nervous and insecure about your next step, you are not made of stone; but the question “am I good enough?” not only is disempowering but actually meaningless. As I will explain.
Why “am I good enough” is the wrong question to ask yourself
By wondering if you are “good enough” for a specific task, project or job, you are comparing yourself against someone else, or more accurately your perception of yourself and that other person. And who are you going to choose? If you are in a negative state of mind, you invariably won’t choose yourself. There will always be people that you perceive as better than you, some who are actually better than you at certain things, and people who are worse.
That’s a fact. But so what? To succeed in YOUR goals, you don’t need to be the best in the world. Not all scientists are Nobel-prize winners. There are lots of scientists out there doing great work, and why can’t you be one of them?
The REAL question you should be asking yourself
What you really need to consider when making your plans is not if you are good enough, or whether you are better than someone else, but these three questions:
1) Do you want to do it? Is it important and meaningful to you?
2) Do you have the knowledge or skills needed? And if not,
3) Are you willing to learn and develop them?
If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then go on and move forward. Of course, it’d be easier to do nothing and keep thinking that you are not good enough, but that will take you nowhere. So go on, it will still be scary, but it should also be exciting…