Doubt

"One thought of doubt in your mind is the devil."
        -Rinzai



When I was itty-bitty, probably 7-ish, I took a test to get into Gifted Classes.  Looking back now, I can tell you it was an IQ test, but at the time all I knew was that my best friend got to leave our regular class one day a week to go to this really really cool  class where they built things and ate things and blew things up and boy did I want to join her, and to join her I had to take this test and do well.

From what I remember, tests in general didn't have a ton of consequences as a kid.  Either you got it or you didn't and if you didn't someone would help you figure it out.

But for this particular test, I understood the stakes.  I really really wanted to get out of regular class.  

The exam was administered by some Random Lady I only have a vague recollection of, but I'm pretty sure it happened in the guidance counselor's office.  I remember Random Lady asking me questions and giving me puzzles to do.  

Now, if you know me, you know I love logic puzzles, but cannot stand actual puzzles with pieces- they always end up being a picture of a kitten with a big pink bow or castles or secret gardens.  

This was also true for me as a kid.

There was this one puzzle on the test that I remember to this day, it was a wooden block puzzle that was supposed to be a soccer ball that I was supposed to put together in a certain amount of time. 

I couldn't do it.

And I remember being so mad, and thinking that if this Random Lady would just give me some more time, I could totally figure it out.  But she wouldn't and I didn't get it and that should have been that.

But it wasn't, because for the entire time it took the powers to be to score my test and tell me whether or not I got to go to the really really cool class with my best friend I was sure that I was going to be rejected because the only thing I could remember about that exam was that damn soccer ball and my inability to figure it out.

That damn soccer ball has been bouncing around in my head for the past 8 weeks.  

8 weeks ago I took Step 3.  

Step 3 is the last of the medical licensing exams. It's a two day exam that has hundreds of questions and case scenarios and has way bigger consequences to my life than that test did when I was 7.  

Needless to say, all I could remember for EIGHT WEEKS was all the questions I got wrong.  And not a little bit wrong, the sorta wrong where you smack yourself on the forehead and go- what was I thinking?

My Mama likes to give me a hard time when I freak out about things like this- she can only remember the times I've done well.

And I can totally see where it's so much easier to see someone else's successes and so much easier to see your own failures. 

Looking back, I can easily name for you a dozen exams I've failed and the consequences those failures had, but as soon as I find out that I passed something, it sorta fades into the background.

Once, during college I remember calling my Mama, vaguely hysterical, barely getting out the words through the tears, "I....  made... an..... EIGHT!"

To which my mother cheerfully replied, "Outta 10?"

I had to get it together enough to explain to her that I didn't cry over 80%, not that day, not any day.  It was a physics exam that I'd made an 8/20 on; 40% seemed much more worthy of tears.

Doubt like that, doubt in yourself, it weasels in, you can't get rid it, and it gets to you, it eats at you.  

It's knowing that everything is probably going to turn out okay, but only really remembering  repeatedly failing physics exams.  And immunology exams.  And histology exams.  And the MCAT.  And geometry.  

That sorta doubt sits in your stomach like a brick and makes you queasy.  It is hard to shake.  




To the people who don't feel this sort of doubt, I envy you.

To rest of you:  how do you shake it off?

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