I have 2 master degrees and a doctorate but I still feel dumb as a rock

First, let me provide this disclaimer: I did very well in school in a technical discipline and graduated a couple years ago with a bachelor's of science. Although I did well, I don't think I'm very smart. I think most of what I did was accomplished through extreme discipline. Even though I feel like a moron, I think I have what it takes to get a PhD from a top 20 school. So most of my opinion is based within a frame of reference that might be alien to another. Even given that frame, though, I think there are a lot of things that can be said objectively.

The majority of the people I work with now have PhDs in technical disciplines. I work on equally hard problems and am treated as an equal in our interactions. I also have lots of friends getting PhDs right now. I was ahead of most of these peers when we were in undergrad. If I think I'm not very good, why would these people go get PhDs? I'm convinced that a lot of kids do it just because it seems like the next natural step after getting your bachelor's. I don't think it's considered as serious of a life choice as it should be. And, for a lot of people, I think they realize they've made a mistake, they lose all passion for the subject, but they have no rational choice but to ride out the rest of the program. They exercise discipline and they finish up the PhD.

I've wavered between wanting to get my PhD for about three years. After very lengthy and heavy contemplation, I've become more and more convinced that it's a racket. Seriously, read up on all the horror stories of modern graduate school and academia. We are not living in the mid-20th century anymore. A lot of people end up getting chewed up and spit out by the system simply because our economy doesn't need them. This is a shame because, although a lot of these people don't possess creative intelligence, I still think they're our best bet for the future. But they end up getting screwed. So choosing to go get a PhD without seriously contemplating the consequences, in my opinion, is already "not smart" by itself.

At the core of everything I've said, though, are thoughts I had as a child of the term PhD. I remember in school thinking, "I want to get a PhD when I grow up." I thought of it as proof on paper that you are certifiably "smart." I think this is also the impression the general public has. If someone with a PhD (especially from a great school) starts talking to you, you expected to be "wowed." But I now think, instead, that a PhD is mostly proof that you are dedicated and can stick with a certain problem for a long time. And I guess that's just stubbornness. I think when you combine dedication, stubbornness, and creativity, that's when somebody now becomes "smart" to me. It's a much rarer thing, and it's a much more special thing. But that creativity, that spark for greatness, is not always required to get a PhD.

/r/confession Thread