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From the Heart
June 30, 2021

Imposter Syndrome

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Cardiol. Published online June 30, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2021.2009

During fellowship, I was proud of myself for punching above my weight class but had trouble shaking off that recurrent feeling that I did not belong. Growing up with a stutter, I had trouble communicating my thoughts out loud and was always afraid that the stutter would come out while speaking. After conquering my fears in middle school, I thought that the world was now my oyster. Then September 11, 2001, happened. Overnight, I suddenly realized I was not like all of my friends. I was an adolescent, Muslim, Indian American male with surprisingly good English who was trying to figure out his place in this world.

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    2 Comments for this article
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    A well written article
    Anne Schlag, PhD | King's College London
    This is a well written article, describing your situation and feelings humbly, warmly and with such kindness- I think you should write more (in addition to being a brilliant doctor)!
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
    Imposter Syndrome is a painful asset
    Mary T Gonzalez, PhD, PMHCNS, BC | Private Practice, semi-retired
    Thank you so much for writing this insightful article about your very personal experience with the Imposter Syndrome. I was born in St. Louis to immigrant parents—father from Spain and mother from Austria. I, also, have partaken of the Imposter Syndrome. It rears its ugly head periodically, even in my seventh decade! But I have come to regard it as an asset. It keeps me humble and always striving to do my best and better. Having a wonderful support system, as you note you have, is so important for a dose of validation. As a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist and psychologist, I have learned to compartmentalize as needed, for the most part. More recently, I have become involved in my local community and accepted the Chair of the Human Relations Commission. I find that the scourge of discrimination is beneath the social veneer and surfaces surprisingly. My life experiences are more helpful than ever. Sharing your plight is valuable to me. Thank you again. Although I now live in Pennsylvania, if members of my family require a cardiologist, I will be referring them to you.
    May you have a long and rewarding career,
    With kind regards,
    Mary T. Gonzalez, PhD, PMHCNS, BC
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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