I’m paraphrasing, but I once heard Michelle Obama say that it never occurred to her that she could get into Princeton, until she saw her brother get accepted. Once she saw him get in, she thought to herself that he’s not so special, and then realized that she could apply herself. I find that her feelings of being intimidated by a given path are very similar to feelings all of us have applying to medical school. I remember as a freshman in college seeing a senior friend get accepted to a prestigious medical school; I was blown away and thought he had accomplished the impossible. It had never crossed my mind that I would one day also get in to that school.
In fact feelings of uncertainty, self-doubt, or intimidation are obstacles that arise at every step of a career. There is a course taught here at Stanford by the Vice Provost called “The Impostor Syndrome” where they discuss how the feelings that you don’t belong or were accepted by accident can affect your progress. It’s interesting because he discusses how even after earning a tenure-track professorship at Stanford he still felt those feelings of intimidation.
In my opinion, the trick to overcoming those feelings of intimidation, particularly in regards to medical school, are to stick with it. After a while, and it can take years, the concepts and challenges that seemed insurmountable begin to seem possible. And there is nothing cooler than succeeding at something you once thought impossible.