Let’s just make one thing clear: Confidence is not built overnight. I truly believe confidence stems from moments we experience in life, as well as the people we meet. Keeping faith in yourself is truly the most important part and growing into adapting to any situation life throws at you helps to grow this skill.
Holding onto a clear version of what you want your life to look like, coming up with a plan to execute it and having the self worth and respect to achieve it and not let anyone get in your way is difficult. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. I would like to equate it to exercising. The more it gets practiced as a skill, the better and easier it becomes.
A study done by NYU School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 2015 reported that female medical students are less confident in their answers than their male counterparts despite them giving correct answers more frequently. When I was in Undergrad, I truly lacked confidence as attending a large university made me feel like a number. I never raised my hand in a huge lecture hall for fear of looking dumb in front of 599 other students. I was also a female in her late teens with not very many role models and not so stellar grades. This doesn’t sound like a solid foundation to start a journey into medicine. However, as I have started this Blog I’m discovering these feelings of isolation, self doubt, wondering if we’re crazy to go into medicine in the first place, becoming impatient and self criticism because our lives aren’t measuring up to the standards we set for ourselves- or that others annoyingly set for us, are all too common. It leads me to wonder, where did our confidence go and how do we get it back?
I think opening up the space for conversation, being honest with yourself and others- for saying I feel a bit weak at the moment but am gathering my strength- is where our confidence starts to build. Everyone loves a work in progress- I sure do! I would be the first person in your corner. It really takes a dream, some grit, determination and hard work to get where you want to be.
The second problem: not letting the opinions of others change your mind or your heart. This is the most dangerous thing. As I said earlier, people we meet can have a beautiful impact on our lives and the direction they take- however, they can derail your dreams and crush your confidence due to their own insecurities, if you let them. Recognizing that you have the control to allow these people to poorly influence your life is vital. This is something I still struggle with- I’m speaking directly to the people pleasers of the world, myself included.
As people venturing into healthcare, it’s important to feel secure in yourself, to be willing to voice your opinions and fight for what you want and what you think is right (while respecting the opinions of others simultaneously). For those of you still studying, the classroom is the best place to practice! I challenge you to raise your hand, voice your opinion, be the first one to volunteer to present. You have a voice, use it. Letting other people’s insecurities and fear of what they may think of you limits you from so many possibilities that hold so much potential for you to grow and gain confidence.
Now, I realize this is SO much easier said than done. No one will be confident every second of everyday. However, allowing yourself the time to reflect and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone- that’s the ultimate form of growth and self respect that everyone deserves. People also treat you the way you treat yourself. So straight from a newly 24 year old: showing yourself respect and being confident in what you want sets the standards for those around you.
So my final note: go out there and keep the faith in what you want and believe in yourself because you owe it to yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what the Universe will bring back to you.