The Sassy Scientist – Fake It Till You Make It

The Sassy Scientist – Fake It Till You Make It

“Impostor syndrome” is a condition that leads some of the most brilliant minds of our generation to question their right of being called a “scientist”, even if they are researching a cure for cancer. Or the Earth sciences equivalent of curing cancer. Tatiana may have impostor syndrome as she brilliantly describes one of the symptoms with her question:

Where do you find the confidence to apply for that job / grant?

Dear Tatiana,

First of all, you are already doing great if you are thinking to apply for a job or a grant. It already shows much more confidence than you think. This alone calls for a celebratory Mai Tai. Cheers!

Regarding your question, you have “to fake it till you make it”. Nobody has confidence in the first two or three grants of job application they submit. It’s something that comes from experience. Better put: eventually you submit enough of those that you become desensitized with the feeling of panic that assaults you when it’s time to hit that “submit now” button. You have to approach applications as a statistics problem, for which hope to a solution is built upon the following conjectures:

  1. Someone has to win this grant/job. Why should it not be me?
  2. By submitting your answer will be either “yes” or “no”. But if you don’t submit, you surely won’t get a “yes”.


Most of us just buy into the game because they know they have to play the game. At the end of the day, you need money to do trivial things like eat or rent a house, so that you can entirely focus on your invaluable, irreplaceable contribution to science.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: I realise just now that I have become a grant-submitting monkey. I need multiple non-celebratory Mai Tais.

Avatar photo
I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>