Yes, Princeton was competitive, but a lot of the pressure was internal. I regret most not speaking up in seminars nearly as much as I should have or wanted to, but I feared looking stupid or ignorant.
Hearing about professors’ regrets about graduate school might be of use to current and prospective graduate students. Do you have any?
Professor Wong continues, describing some of the thoughts that helped him overcome his reticence:
I knew I acquired skills there, and came to realize I had some interesting perspectives to contribute, but it’s not a place that helps you get over the habit of invidiously comparing yourself with others. A few years after graduate school, I came to think of myself as a laborer in an ancient tradition, and that how we contemporaries judge each other is not going to matter a whole lot in the long run. We just do our best and hope that some of it matters to some people now or down the line.
The whole interview is here.