I’m too quiet – finding my voice in class

Within the last couple of weeks I have started both graduate school and my social work internship placement. It’s been pretty hectic for me. Getting back into the swing of class has been difficult, to say the least. One of the things that’s always been hardest for me in class is participation. I always attend class and I’m actively listening and engaged, but raising my hand to talk? Not my strong point. So I was feeling pretty down about it when I saw today’s daily prompt was “Silence” – so I decided to write about it instead of just wallowing in what I felt was my own incompetence. That would have lead to a depressive spiral of self-doubt and self-hate, and had in fact already begun to do so, so bear with me, as this is going to be a by-the-seat-of-my-pants up-to-the-minute stream-of-consciousness blog post. (Did I use the right form of “bear” there?)

raising-hand

Photo Credit: Creative Commons License usage. Image found on elenazanella.wordpress.com

I feel incompetent. That’s the long and short of it. Everybody else seems to have so much more experience than I do in the arena of social work already. (That’s what I’m getting my masters in). They have access to this vocabulary and set of skills that I don’t. When I do participate, I stumble my way through a sentence or two of a thought that may not even be fully formed. When everyone else raises their hands, they make salient points that drive the discussion. I can hear my own long pauses and how unsure I sound. Part of that is just a confidence issue, but the other part is I feel so far behind that I don’t know what to do. I felt especially incompetent in class today, in a class where I should have been one of the people relied on to participate consistently (as it was a macro class and I’m part of the macro program) – I only spoke twice briefly and I stumbled over my words. I sat there quietly and listened as other people made their points and contributed to the class discussion.

I feel terrible. I know as a student, I am here to learn. But what happens when I can’t contribute to that learning? I feel like I’m the “weakest” member of the class. I don’t know anything about the technicalities of social work, or the practicalities. I was a receptionist! I’ve been an admin since I graduated, when I had work to do, while everyone else seems to either have work experience, internship experience, or they’re coming out of undergrad directly with a pertinent degree in social work, psychology, or sociology, or something similar to that. I know saying “everyone” is probably an exaggeration. I’m certain there are others who feel unsure and useless, like I do. But somehow, they’re still participating in class!

I do the readings for the most part. I come prepared to class. But I still feel left behind and out of the loop. It makes me feel awful. Did I make the right choice coming back to school? Am I qualified for this? Aren’t I just faking it? Yeah, I’m really just faking it. I’m not competent, confident, or capable. I’m just…me. I don’t know anything. I need to learn it, but if everything is discussion based, and I have nothing to discuss, what can I learn?

I don’t know. I’ve just repeated myself a bunch of times here. I’m feeling down on myself, and down on my choices. Maybe as the semester progresses this will work itself out. Maybe it just is a confidence issue. But when everyone else seems to be succeeding and I’m just barely flying by the seat of my pants, it’s disheartening and discouraging.

Class has been good. My internship placement has been good. But I need to find my voice. I should probably talk to my professors about this. But I’ll wait another week or so to see how my classes go, I suppose. I will hopefully conquer this and I won’t remain silent for the rest of the year.

via Daily Prompt: Silence

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