Almost only counts in Horseshoes

The GirlsTM and I get together on an almost-monthly basis. We usually have some sort of potluck and wine. We've all come to like our little group. It's kind of like a graduate school support group. We formed during our first year in the required fall course. There were eight of us. Now, there are 5 of us. Two of us working on a master's degree and have graduated. One decided (wisely) that this baloney wasn't for her and she decided to pursue a masters in another program(and is much happier now, incidentally). The five of us left are all in our fourth year.

We had a potluck a few weeks ago and were talking about my Former Labmate, who has recently defended. "It's weird," I told them, "that he is gone. And I'm now , in Advisor's words, the senior grad student in the lab." Mouse told me that "He gives me hope that I can graduate." She was referring to Former Labmate's famous (among grad students) work schedule. After more general discussion about being so close, yet so far. CanadianFriend informs us that she has bought an 18-month planner.* She was excited because it was the last planner that she hopes she'll have to buy while in school.

This has me freaked out. Unfortunately it's not in the wow-we're-almost-done-and-everything-will-change way, it's in the my-experiments-keep-not-working-and-I'll-never-get-any-data-so-I'll-never-graduate way. I'm in my fourth year and I don't feel like I've made significant headway in the past six months. Any progress that I've made has been incremental (as in I overcome one problem in time to have another one take its place). Therefore, everything has taken a lot longer than I thought it would. When Advisor asks me how long something will take, I now think of the longest it would take me and multiply it by 1.5. That way I should be done with it by then.

This all dovetails nicely with my Imposter Syndrome. My fear of being found out as incompetent and/or stupid beyond redemption is not alleviated by this lack of progress. Recently my imposter-ness has been in the forefront of my mind because we've had a seminar series on career development. I mentioned this to Advisor and he said, offhandedly, that he'd be willing to discuss my career at anytime. So, now I'm trying to muster the courage to talk to him about future career plans. I say 'courage' because the response that I fear is something along the lines of: 'Get out now before you waste any more time.' But I'm sure that he would've asked/told me to master out if that was the case... right?

*Average time in our program is around 5 years. Most advisors in our program try to make students adhere to such rules.