The joke at med school is “What happens when you fill a class with valedictorians?” The unfortunate answer is that everyone feels inadequate. We also fall into the habit of viewing laid-back high-achievers on some kind of unattainable pedestal. I hear a lot of very intelligent people give up and say “There’s no way I’ll ace this exam– I’m no genius.” The good news– nobody is.
I’m taking a moment out of prepping for my Genetics final to dispel the myth that our highest-achieving classmates are “geniuses”. It’s true that many have amazing accomplishments already in their short lives, but in every case that I know of, there is more to the story than some inherent genius. We’ve seen the research done on top performers in any field. Was Tiger Woods born to play golf? Of course not. Golf is just a random invention that Woods got exposed to early on and enjoyed enough to commit himself to. What these superstars have is an intense focus on a particular area, coupled with years of deliberate practice.
Instead of constantly bashing ourselves with comparisons to others, find an upward spiral of small success–>increased confidence/motivation–>deliberate practice–>big success. There are plenty of ways to improve our performance, but it starts with shunning the idea that other people have something we inherently lack.
Maybe there is a genius at a med school somewhere, but in general we all got where we are through persistent hard work and abundant opportunities.