a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
  Nothing to fear but…
I barely did any work yesterday! I started off with my study-break routine, and was doing well in the beginning. I faltered in the 2nd hour and by the third, sputtered out completely. I couldn’t bear to pick the books up again despite numerous resolutions during the course of the day to just do it! Consequently, I was more irritable yesterday afternoon and evening than I had been in a very long time. Man, was I irritable! I was snapping at everyone and everything. I wouldn’t have wanted to be around me!

At night however, I had managed to calm down, although through no great self-control of my own. The skipped heartbeats and palpitations stopped and the crease in b/w my eyes softened as whatever demon had possessed me up till then decided to cut me some slack.

It was my father who calmed me down. He was very loving towards me last night, and expressed confidence in my abilities. Whenever someone I know about does that, it really calms me down. When someone honestly believes (and expresses this belief) that I am capable of making something of myself, it increases my self-confidence. As other med students will know, self-confidence is a rare commodity come crunch time in med school. I know I have it in me to be a great doctor. I know I can do really well in this exam. That is to say, I know I have the guts and inner strength to lug away from the major part of the day at my books. I’ve done it before. Its just that sometimes, when things are moving too slowly, I panic and start to feel I’m slipping, and before I know it I am slipping. I think a major part of this insecurity and lack of self-confidence is my repeated failures in the past. When I was younger, before med school, I led a happy, easy, obstacle-free life. I used to achieve my goals with great ease. Failure never loomed in the horizon, so fear never did either. Now, both seem to be constant companions of mine, dogging me like bounty hunters. The fear induces panic, and the panic causes a total breakdown of focus which lead me right to failure again. A positive feedback loop.

One way of breaking the cycle is to succeed at the task at hand. But why should my inner self be subjugated to the capriciousness of my performance in an inherently flawed examination? Shouldn’t I be positive and self-confident regardless? Isn’t building a fairly resilient character part and parcel of the process of medical education? This career will throw other curve balls my way, in other shapes and forms. If I break down and let fear of failure overcome me, I’m already a failure, aren’t I?

Most of my study woes stem from an inability to perform because I get so freaked out, I just short-circuit myself. One way to break the cycle is to be realistically positive. Take it one day at a time, pat myself on the back for the work I do, and not dwell too much into what I have yet to do.
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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