Thursday, October 20, 2016

Competitive and insecure

I was very recently told by a colleague that there are some students and even faculty who have talked about me and have told them that I am very competitive and insecure. I am going to eloborate a bit on both of these characteritsitcs. I am not sure how I feel about them and hence the blog post.

1) Competitive: I am very competitve and strive to the best in what ever circumstance. Be it edcuation, research or sports. I am like this because I came from a third world country and from a middle class family (not US kind of middle class but 3rd world kind of middle class). I learnt early in life that in order to excel I need to be super eaons ahead of my peers (who may have a social and/or resource advantage over me). My rationlae was that if I am the best in what I do then there is little else that would matter.

Although world is unfair the gamble worked. There wasn't much could be done and I did excel. I did come to US and had the same odds in terms of being an immigrant and a student. The gamble again paid off. Now I am a faculty in a research university in the US. I am in the world of cut throat research, grants, publications and politics. So hell yes ! I am very competitive and I think I would like to remain this way if I am to keep my edge.

I understand that this may rub off some students as well and they may not take this lightly. But I am not competing against these students. I am competing against the research giants and federal agencies and I cannot switch myself off when talking and/or training these students. I want them to be competitive as well.

2) Insecure: When you are constantly running to get ahead; and there are always people who are going to be smarter/with more federal monies/more and better publications etc. than I am; you are going to be a bit insecure as well. May be this is where my imposter syndrome comes as well. I am not sure how I feel about this but time will tell.


  1. I don't think there's anything wrong being a person competitive and insecure, in academia. However, I don't see why you feel a need to explain yourself, to yourself and to others. One had every said, you loose at the moment you start explaining yourself.

  2. Dr Becca of Scientopia once wrote that academics are a nonwinning combination of super competitive and super insecure. Totally true.

    Nothing wrong about being competitive. As to being insecure, I also am and it comes from being a woman in a field with no women, and in seeing how I measure up with the people ahead. I often say that people who never doubt themselves either never truly challenged themselves/tried to do anything worth doing well or are masters of self-delusion.

    So you're fine, don't worry. But you definitely don't have to explain yourself to anyone. F them all for gossiping about you.