When author Martha Beck is Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, she is a full-time graduate student at Harvard. She talks about the persona, Fang, she developed in order to feel like she "fit in."
It reminded me of a conversation I had with my AP English teacher my senior year.
I had been in Honors or Advanced classes for nearly everything (except Math) from junior high, but I still didn't think of myself as smart. I may have made it into these classes, but I always assumed that I was the stupidest person in the room. (Is stupidest a real word? See, a smart person would know that already!)
As we got closer to the AP test date, I started to get really nervous that this would be the day that I was found out.
I went to my teacher to see if she thought maybe I should skip it altogether. I tried to explain to her that I didn't really belong in this class, and I didn't want my bad score to poorly reflect on her.
She said to me, "but you're here. You're in this class. Of course you belong here; otherwise, you wouldn't be here."
It was one of those light bulb moments for me. It had never occurred to me before that it wasn't by accident that I ended up in this class.
I passed the AP test. I didn't get the highest score in the class, but I passed. Turns out, I hadn't been faking it all those years after all.
I ran into her at a reunion some...years later. I told her how much that conversation meant to me, and thanked her for it. Turns out the conversation had stuck with her, too, and she said she repeated it often to students when they too were doubting themselves.
I told my parents about that conversation. My dad told me, "everybody feels that way." That, too, was a revelation. Was it possible that I wasn't the only one who wondered if I belonged there?
Beck has a similar moment in the book, so I am confident that it's not just me and my dad!
This post was inspired by the book Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, which I received for free as a contributor to From Left to Write. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions expressed are completely my own...but others might feel the same way! Since Amazon un-fired me as an associate (it's a California thing, not a personal thing), if you buy the book using this link, it will generate a small referral fee for me. Very small.