When I started at the School of Social Work a little over a year ago, I felt well prepared for the road ahead. I was ready and excited to dive in, and was comforted by the immense support offered by faculty, staff, and my peers.
So I was surprised to find myself wrestling with comparison. My mind was gradually filled with doubts of my own capabilities and feelings of intimidation.
Everyone has so much more experience than me, I thought. They’ve got a better handle on the workload. I’m not cut out for this.
I knew that these were wildly inaccurate thoughts, yet they managed to bounce around in my mind for an unfortunate amount of time. It wasn’t until a certain exercise in one of my direct practice classes with Marty Weems that I realized I’m not alone.
The topic for the day was learning to facilitate support groups. Marty, in her infinite wisdom and kindness, decided that we would use the rest of class to hold a support group for ourselves. She would lead it and we would have some space to talk about our grad school experiences.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that much, if not most, of my cohort was wrestling with this persistent bully that is comparison. Seeing that also helped me make sense of it: when you’re surrounded by bright, caring, strong individuals, it’s natural for you to question your own capabilities. It can make you blind to your own strengths, and it takes loving, intentional work to see them. And at the same time, the inherent truth in that struggle is that those strengths are surely present.