I had a conversation with one of my friends from graduate school about a week ago. I told her about how well I’m doing in my classes but that I still had reservations about going to graduate school for statistics. I feel like my experience in graduate school made me lose confidence in my mathematical abilities. By the end, I didn’t feel like I had what it takes to be a mathematician. I don’t want history to repeat itself. I’m very afraid that going to graduate school for statistics will only show that I’m not cut out to be a statistician either.

My friend, however, sees things differently. She doesn’t think I lost my confidence. She thinks I never had it to begin with.

As an undergraduate, I had very good grades in my math classes, but I never did anything on my own. Whenever I had problems with homework, I would ask my professor, my TA, or my classmates. I never built the confidence to do the homework on my own. If I got stuck, I shut down and waited to ask for help. Once I got to graduate school, I was in a different world. Graduate students often collaborate, but confidence in your own abilities is necessary for success, and that’s something I never had.

My experience with statistics so far has been very different. I do all my homework on my own. I’m the one who helps others rather than the one who others help. I have always had self-confidence issues, but my confidence in being able to do statistics is pretty high (at least for now). My friend thinks I will do better and go further in statistics because of this one fact. She always thought I had the brains to do math but that I never had the confidence.

This time around, hopefully I have both.


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