When I was a medical student and later, a resident, I had no idea how capable I was. I mean, I knew I was competent. Or at least, I had it in me to be competent. But most of the time I tip toed around hoping and praying that I wouldn't get the covers pulled back on the real me--the one who really wasn't so great at all.
I've talked about this before, this idea of thinking of yourself as an imposter. With each accolade, I felt the spotlight brighten. It was nauseating to think that people would look at me and point in my direction expecting some level of excellence that honestly, I was pretty sure wasn't a deliverable from my end. It was a sucky way to feel.
At some point I chose to start fighting against those insecure ideas. I coached myself to believe that I was who people thought I was or better yet, someone even greater if I could fight my fears long enough to explore what that meant.
I think of this every day. I ask myself, "Who are you? What are you doing with your spiritual gifts? Are you using them? Are you trying your best to transform a piece of this world?" The answers are mixed sometimes. But I strive to eventually attain very confident and firm answers some day.
I fight to help my learners see themselves as excellent. Some part of me wants to accelerate things for them and quickly push them away from self-deprecating thoughts as early as possible. To look them in the eyes and say, "You are more than even you realize. And I see it." I want to be sure that they know what I didn't know then.
Especially those who perform at high levels. For some reason, those are the ones that doubt themselves the most. And so. I'm specific when I give them feedback. It's more than just "strong work." It's, "Here is why I think you are awesome. Specifically, this is what you did that stood out." Then I observe and coach them, trying my best to dissect the liking them part from the here is why I think you are a highly competentindividual part. Because sometimes that distinction gets blurry.
I guess my point of this ramble is this: I want to fight the imposter phenomenon with all of my might. I want those girls like me who come to majority schools to feel like they deserve to be there. I want those students who've had an academic hiccup to not think this is what defines them for the rest of their career. I guess I just want them to know what I didn't know. At least not fully.
I'm a lot closer to believing in myself than I used to be. One of my goals every day as a clinician and as an educator is to convince people, through my interactions with them, of who they are and what they can do. To me, that's half the battle. Better begins with belief.
Honestly? I write this blog to share the human aspects of medicine + teaching + work/life balance with others and myself -- and to honor the public hospital and her patients--but never at the expense of patient privacy or dignity.
Thanks for stopping by! :)
"One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends of how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give."
~ James Baldwin (1924 - 1987)
"Do it for the story." ~ Antoinette Nguyen, MD, MPH
Details, names, time frames, etc. are always changed to protect anonymity. This may or may not be an amalgamation of true,quasi-true, or completely fictional events. But the lessons? They are always real and never, ever fictional. Got that?