I just feel like I needed someone to listen to me for a second. It's a long, story-of-my-life post. I might delete it later because it's embarrassing. I got into some top 10 brand name schools for graduate school. One of them was my dream school. I came from a small department with litte resources, so I was ecstatic at first. I went to the open houses and met with the professors and had mostly good meetings, except at one school: the one I wanted to go to. 3 of the 5 professors I met with with brought up my academic background at the meetings and told me I probably would have a very hard time trying to pass quals at their school, given that my undergraduate program was not very rigorous (this was true.) The worst one was the professor I had my heart set on working with. He just started questioning me during the meeting like I was in an oral exam and I choked on easy questions like "What's the momentum of a photon?" because I was caught off-guard. And I just had to keep repeating "I don't know" for most things. After grilling me he told me that I was very bright, but I should give up on research for at least two years because I was "fooling myself and trying to fool everyone else if I thought I was ready to be a scientist," and that I would surely fail the quals even if I tried to self study the whole summer. He even had the nerve to lecture me about "impostor syndrome" after he basically made the absolute worse case senario (the one they tell you is "never going to actually happen") related to this fear play out. I know what he was saying wasn't true, because you don't necessarily need to be an expert on a topic to start research in it, and I know how fast I can learn. It made me very angry that so many people were counting me out even after admitting me and I chose to go to another school. I self studied and covered all of undergrad QM and E&M since April, and now I'm much better prepared, and I can even solve the qual problem from that school's website just fine. I suppose I should feel good because I proved that guy was wrong about me, but I don't feel good at all. I just feel empty and sad. Before that day, I thought physics was amazing and mystical and that that school was where the magic happened. I looked back at my personal statement for the NSF and nothing I wrote about my passion is even true anymore. I read those books and learned so much, but it seemed like the only effect was waking me up from a dream. Like no matter what I learn or accomplish, there's always going to be someone looking down on me because of where I came from or what I look like, or because they know more than I do. I think it's getting to the point where I'm starting to dislike other people that aren't as "smart" (I can't think of the right word right now) as I am when discussing physics or math because they remind me of myself talking to that professor. I know that isn't right, but it's what's in my heart. So here I am about to go to a top 10 school, but instead of being excited, all I feel is insecurity about my abilities and angry that I didn't learn all those things I was supposed to learn as an undergrad, and I'm angry because I didn't even know I wasn't learning what is standard. Has anyone else experienced feelings like this? Any advice? I feel like I don't even like physics anymore. I hate to say it's because of one bad experience because the general advice is "Oh, don't let on person get you down!" That advice my parents gave me really didn't help at all.