How to be more confident in my own intelligence?
September 10, 2010 10:05 AM Subscribe
How do I become more confident in my intelligence and not worry that people around me will think I'm dumb?
I was a socially awkward nerd child who adapted an "At least I'm smarter than you!" mentality to get through eating lunch alone for years. I'm much happier and better adjusted now, but it seems to have come at the price of raging insecurity about my own intelligence. I think this is partially because I spent several years pursuing art to the exclusion of most else, and so now that I'm attempting to do computer science I feel "behind" (I haven't taken any math or statistics classes, for instance, beyond the basics.)
Last night at a party I met this guy who happened to know a lot about a subject I've been reading a textbook about (how computers reason and learn). I asked him to explain one of the concepts to me, which he did graciously and well. I didn't have any real difficulty understanding. But I still felt so stupid, that he needed to explain it to me in the first place. And I wondered whether he thought I was stupid, even though objectively I know he probably didn't have an opinion either way.
This insecurity has been a real problem for me. I worked for a while in an ivy league setting and I felt intense imposter syndrome, to the point where I sabotaged myself and quit. I consider applying to grad school every year but always chicken out.
Anyway, how do I deal with this? It's almost paralyzing sometimes, and self-defeating - I'll refrain from engaging people in conversation, putting my ideas out there, or asking questions, just so people won't think I'm dumb. Sometimes I can make myself ask questions anyway (like last night) but it's hard and I miss feeling confident and smart like I used to.