As I am writing this, I am also shadowing a doctor with the hopes of getting some exposure in a hospital setting. Yesterday, I attended radiology rounds, which was when the team consulted with a radiologist on Zoom over certain patients. Before each patient’s scan was pulled up, either the med student or a resident in the team gave what was called a “one liner,” which briefly summarized the patient’s medical history with their chief complaint and provisional diagnosis.
Let me give you a one liner of my first year at Yale:
19-year-old female from Branford, CT presents with imposter syndrome, though found to have made good friends and communities as well as sought good places to study and cry, most consistent with the first-year experience at Yale, but other possibilities include not being good enough for an institution that was not made for her and being too focused on surviving rather than learning.
Let’s unpack that. Imposter syndrome is very common. Especially as a first year. And especially at a place like Yale. I knew this going into my first year. However, that did not stop me from feeling it. Oh no, it instead made me more frustrated with myself when I let imposter syndrome get the best of me. The constant doubting, the fear of being perceived a certain way over another, the realization that I was academically malnourished. It did not all come storming in at once. Maybe that would have been better. Rather it was slowly, one at a time as different experiences led to different realizations like a slowly burning song.
Of course my first year was not all bad. I met so many people from all walks of life. I became friends with some. I had a wonderful on-campus living experience (an uncommonality). I experienced my first Ramadan away from home with a tight-knit community. I made a lot of invaluable memories, and for them I am very grateful.
My first year at Yale was also a time of self-reflection, especially being first-generation, low-income (FGLI), as I came to terms with the fact that I had very different experiences than most of my non-FGLI counterparts. Being FGLI dictated a lot of what I felt and what I did. I didn’t mind it though because I found a lot of my close friends from the community. But it did make me realize that I had to pave my own path and find my own connections. I had to stop letting this institution disappoint me in its lack of support for us. I had to let my identity uplift me and strengthen me instead of viewing it as a weakness that could not be changed. I will not say that I have completely done that yet. But I have started. And some days it’s harder than others. But some days it feels incredible. And it is for those days that I keep trying.
This is only a very surface-level explanation of my first year at Yale. And maybe I didn’t do it justice. But if I could only emphasize one thing, it would be that it will get done. Whether it is a problem set or an essay, you will make it through because you are a student at Yale with the capacity to get it done. So there is no point in losing all hope, in becoming so anxious you cannot get out of bed, to the point where the mere idea of opening a book nauseates you. Save yourself from all of that, and just know that it will get done.
Ultimately, dear incoming first year, welcome. Welcome to a place that is great more than it is terrible. A place where so many opportunities await and where you have an abundance of resources. Seek help when you need it. Cry when you need to.
If there is anything that I’ve talked about that resonated with you, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help. Apparently, I have it all figured out now since I’m no longer a first year.
Hasfa Fazl is a rising sophomore in Silliman College. Contact her at email@example.com.