I'm a starting graduate student in math. Without a doubt I'm not a genius or even that smart, and that creates a serious problem: I often lose my nerve while doing research or studying other people's paper. I feel that some of those people (if not most) are just too good and I crack under the pressure to produce works of similar quality. I know the right thing to do is to be "brave" and power through and see where I end up. But this issue of "cowardice" has severely hurt my productivity. Do successful researchers have same problem or are they just totally engrossed with their work and do not care about anything else? How can I somehow be more disciplined with my emotions?

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    I hesitate to flag this as duplicate, but you should certainly read this site's most upvoted question. The fact that it is, in fact, the most popular question says something in itself, especially regarding your first question. – henning -- reinstate Monica Feb 6 '19 at 19:54
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    That would be this question: academia.stackexchange.com/q/2219/75368. Likewise a search on this site for imposter syndrome will turn up much more advice. – Buffy Feb 6 '19 at 19:56
  • Also, this: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/11765/… (and just for the record, I'm the first to say 'imposter syndrome') – henning -- reinstate Monica Feb 6 '19 at 19:57
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    You are not alone in feeling doubtful of your abilities. This is a very common feeling amongst grad students. Let me just state: being a grad student can suck. The professors (despite what they say) usually have forgotten how hard it is to learn really complicated ideas, which, if you are in grad school for math, you certainly are doing. Read Buffy's and henning's links. They may help. – Van Feb 6 '19 at 19:57
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    Possible duplicate of How should I deal with discouragement as a graduate student? – Buffy Feb 6 '19 at 20:00

I think that you may experience what can be characterized as Frustration.

frustration is a common emotional response to opposition, related to anger, annoyance and disappointment.

As you're reading scientific papers, you're on higher level of scientific work than is expected from graduate student - I did not read too much papers during my MSc.
And it depends also what is expected of you by your colleagues, so compare whether your frustration is not combined with Imposter syndrome mentioned in comments.

E.g. Authors usually spent several months or years to produce some results and to write a paper. So understanding the paper may take also some time to readers. Other problem is that some papers are so brief thus it's rather a problem of the authors if they can't explain their scientific problem or solution to somebody outside their domain niche.

I have been experiencing frustration personally many times during my MSc, PhD and my current postdocs projects. When it happened I gave myself a time limit. So during that time limit it's good to consult the problem with somebody else. If I don't make any progress and frustration continues after the time limit, I give up and move to somewhere else.

The limit and tolerance to frustration is very subjective. Nobody should expect you to grasp all problems and in short time. My oppinion is that mental health is more important than scientific achievements.

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