Crisis of Confidence

Confession - It’s been over 2 years since I have put any steps towards a passion of mine –   helping others on their journey to becoming a medical doctor. 

Two years ago, when I set on this journey to share my victory at achieving a career as a doctor, I had no idea the challenges I had faced during medical school and those I would continue to face in medicine, would culminate in me abandoning my passion. In hindsight, I started with the best intentions and fell off because I let something get in the way. But what and why? 

I had a crisis of confidence.

Mindset is EVERYTHANG –   I’ve always had a “winning mindset” – I believed in myself and my abilities since I was a kid. When I performed well, it only enhanced this belief. When I didn’t, my winning mindset led to me look at my lack of performance as a problem I could solve and so my mind would flip that “L” into a win. In reality, I had more wins under my belt than losses and naturally that fueled my confidence in my belief in my abilities – creating a domino effect in my belief that I was destined for success. But, somewhere along my journey in medicine, my mindset changed. I started to perceive less than perfect performances as losses instead of what they were – Less than perfect performances. I stopped looking at them as problems I could solve and I started to focus my mind on PERFECTION – a recipe for a disaster. 

You are ONLY in competition with yourself – I know we have all heard this one – I am my ONLY competitor. But, I say it here because it’s true and this truth comes into play when you lose track of it and start competing with everyone else around you instead.  I started comparing myself to others during medical school. I was amongst the most intelligent and talented people in the world who made performing well look easy. It seemed as though my peers were studying very little and socializing a lot ALL while killing every single exam. It probably was true – I mean come on I was a student at an Ivy League Medical School. But, I compared myself to my peers and felt shame and embarrassment when I would give 110% (something I had not honestly done before) and would not walk away with a solid grade, let alone the top grade in the class.  It seemed that no matter how hard I worked, I was unable to achieve the grades I was expecting. And, instead of readjusting my goals or facing reality that I was facing a huge challenge, my confidence started to chip away making room for self-doubt and intimidation.

Falling behind does NOT equal failure – This is a HARD one for me. I strive for perfection in all that I do. It may not seem like it at the surface, but this fact is defined by my behavior when I fail at being perfect. I, essentially, quit. Over the years, I’ve gotten good at fighting that urge, possibly because I had so many “wins” under my belt that I still felt perfect or perhaps I hadn’t been faced with a challenge that tested my perception of who I am – A brilliant, confident person who succeeded with ease. The harsh truth I’m learning is I am not those things, while I am still those things. The more I fell behind in my lofty dream of building a super peer network for medicine prospects, I perceived it as a failure on my part. I felt less of a zest to keep pushing and before I knew it – it was two years since my last post. 

Today, marks a new journey of compassion for myself and my abilities as I set my focus on my goal of mentoring others.   Today, marks the day I begin again!

- Jessica Clemons, MD