(I’m a 3rd year philosophy PhD student)
I was tired and grumpy during the second cognitive science class of this semester. I was also intimidated since cog sci and even phil of mind are not my specialties. The day after that class, I talked to the professor (whom I had taken two other classes with the previous year.)
He asked me why I had been so quiet in class. I can’t remember the exact answer I gave. He then said (paraphrasing), “There’s no reason for you to be quiet. I know you; you’re smart. You’re just as smart as the other graduate students in the class. So you should be talking more, even when you’re unsure. You need to be brave in philosophy. Don’t not talk because you think you’re not smart enough to.”
In the moment, sitting there, I thought “yes, yes, I know I’m smart enough to do philosophy” and didn’t think much of it. The next week in class, though, I realized that I felt 200% more confident and sure of myself. I talked a lot more, asked a lot of questions, and didn’t shrink back like I normally do when I’m not sure whether I understand the conversation.