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Fear of disappointing


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Hi all,

I discovered this forum last night and reading about other people's experience made feel a little better.

I am a new M.Sc student in neurosciences. I visited several labs and received multiple offers before settling for the one I am in right now. I have to advisors as this is a cosupervison. I was really excited when I met them and they've been very welcoming. What I didn't know is that when I left, one of the PIs went to a current grad student and told her how much they hope ill accept their offer, as they can see, with my research background and grades, that I will get scholarships. The second PI even told me on the phone that there is nothing to worry about, I will FOR SURE get scholarships.

My research background is good. But my grades are not phenomenal.. I'm happy they see potential in me, but it really stresses me out.. I applied for three scholarships this summer. I got the last one, which is great, I'm really grateful. But I failed to get the two first ones. It's ok, I know it is competitive. But I feel like my PIs were expecting me to be better.. Now there are three other contests coming up and I'm so scared I won't get the awards..

They are really good advisors. But Im so intimidated by them.. I'm 21 years old and the other students are 30+.. I feel like I know nothing compared to others. I'm just scared all the time that they regret offering me a position in their lab..

PS I am a sociable person, I enjoy the other students presence and we interact a lot, even with the ten year gap. But when I come face to face with one of my advisor, I become incredibly shy and have nothing to say..

Anyone else feeling that way?

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Social comparison will drive you crazy.


That said, most people do it. I was in the opposite position of what you describe - I was 30+ with a lab cohort who was 21. I felt like the little old lady compared to the young whippersnappers. (Hint: the students you know might feel the same way!)

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I feel you, believe me.  It's a bit more generalized with me.  I've developed this stutter/stammer thing when I try to talk about science with professors.  I think it's partly a well-developed imposter syndrome, and partly just that I've always been shy.  I'm 36, so if it's any consolation, age doesn't make it go away.  :unsure:


That said, they were hoping you'd get scholarships, and you got a scholarship, so I don't think you have that much to worry about.  Try looking at it from the perspective that 1) you got into the program, 2) you got a scholarship, 3) you have great advisers, and 4) you have an excellent opportunity to learn many different things from these peoples' combined experience(s).


You kinda won the grad school lottery, try to relax and enjoy it.  ;)

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Planning/hoping/wanting to win everything will drive you crazy and you already know it just has to fail. There's always someone better, something more you can do, another conference you could apply to -- it never ends. I sincerely doubt that your advisors would have that kind of expectation of you because it's just so clearly unrealistic. I'd take what they said simply as a compliment: they think you are a strong student who has a good chance of succeeding in various academia-related activities. Many students don't get that much encouragement from their advisors during their entire graduate school career! Anyway, I wouldn't worry about "only" getting one scholarship. You got one scholarship, and that's great. You may win some of the other awards you've applied for, but your advisors are realistic people so I'm sure all they expect is that you try your best, not to necessarily win them all. You'll get over being intimidated by them as you get to know them better -- they're just people and as you work with them more you'll get used to it. You can talk to them about this if you want, but I think it'll all work itself out if you just give it a little more time. 

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Thank you guys. I definitely need to stop overanalyzing..




You kinda won the grad school lottery, try to relax and enjoy it.   ;)


Sansao, hihi I love your statement. And I'm sorry to hear you still have this anxiety when talking to your PI :( 


Fuzzylogician: You're right, I'll keep this perspective in mind. I don't plan on approaching my PIs on my shyness, I started grad school only 3 weeks ago. Hopefully, it will go away.

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