Monday, September 21, 2020


I have never been the best at anything, and I am not well versed in any one particular subject, nor am I athletic enough to be considered good in any sports. Do I enjoy the competition? Yes. Since I was seven years old, my mother enrolled me into religious classes which offered a healthy form of competition. To encourage the girls to learn religious scripts from the Quran or memorize Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet peace be on him), they would hold competitions based on the age group to provide motivation to learn and make it a fun event. I enjoyed taking part in these competitions even though I have performance anxiety. It helped me learn how to speak in front of an audience and write speeches or speak impromptu on a certain subject in front of a large group of people. There was also a lot of memorization involved, which helped me with my formal public school education. It became easier to learn and memorize things in school because I had trained my mind to gain knowledge and secure it away. But I was rarely the best at something specific. I do not deny that I could hold my own and could excel in a certain subject when I wanted to but I could never be the best. 

    This might not seem like a big deal to many of you, and it would be fair for you to ask why this was so important for me. Being raised in a competitive atmosphere where I was continuously pitted against my friends and other girls in my age group, it really gave me a sense of where I stood in the scheme of things. But most of the pressure came from my mother, which internally transformed into pressure from me. Anything other than first place would be a disappointment in her eyes, despite the long hours I spent memorizing and preparing for an event. The added pressure became overwhelming sometimes when they were announcing awards and my heart would race while the little voice in my head reminded me to prepare for the look of extreme disappointment in my mother's eyes. She would not have to utter a word. Just her stance would change or her eyes would avert from my direction, I would know I had disappointed her. 

    This feeling that I am never good enough is something I still continue to struggle with to this day. As I continue to grow older, I never left the world of competition behind. I needed to have excellent grades for admission in my top choice universities for undergraduate programs, and then I needed to excel in my undergraduate degree to gain entry into a medical school. I would look around me and notice my friends succeeding and delivering the results that got them where they needed to go, but I just could not do it. I struggled in maintaining focus throughout my school years and even through college. It was that voice never left and would whisper in my ear that no matter what I do, I will never reach that level where I will be happy with my achievements. I became a self-fulfilling prophecy for that voice and truly did never reach where I wanted to be, when I wanted and how I wanted. I just was not good enough to get there. 

    Even in university, I received average grades subpar in my eyes because I knew these would not get me into medical school, so I gave up on myself before I even finished my degree. I distracted myself by filling that void of contentment with failed relationships. The secret relationships led to distance forming between me and my parents because once again I had let them down in another area of my life. There was no escape from the continuous disappointment I dished my parents. It was at this point I became really confused and lost. I did not know how to attain happiness in my life or feel good about who I was. I wished that just one thing would turn out right and then maybe this life would not be so suffocating, but my cry for help went unheard. 

    Luckily, I have an amazing tribe of close friends who helped me navigate the darkness within me but they could not help me change what I was not ready to manage myself. Sometimes my friends or my other peers would exclaim that I am smart because I know something. In my head, I would laugh thinking I am fantastic at fooling people because I am not that smart. Despite not being great at something I tried to help my peers by teaching certain subjects so I felt I gave that gave them a false sense that I knew that subject really well when I was just reading off the textbook myself trying to figure out the complexity of the matter just like them. Sometimes I have been told I have knowledge about many things so that is why I am smart but to me, that is not something special it is just a mild interest in everything the world has to offer. If I was intelligent, it would have shown in my grades, I tell myself. If I was someone to look up to I would have something to show, but I didn't. 

    Even once admitted to medical school in Europe, I could not be happy about it. I had been told in the past by friends and even someone I thought I was in love with that those who study in medical schools outside of North America "is those who are not smart enough and want to pay their way into medical school." This statement upset and influenced me greatly when I heard from the people I respected, and it made me feel that perhaps they have a point. Therefore, I gave up on trying for medical school after graduating from a university with a bachelor's degree. I thought this was it for me, and I can never reach my dreams of becoming a doctor. I am not good enough. 

    Even after graduating from medical school, and almost completing my USMLE board exams, I have this nervous flutter in my heart that I will never be granted a family medicine residency because there are so many others who are better than me who deserve it more. I still want to run away from it all. What if I made a mistake spending all this time and money into a futile wish that I did not know how to work harder for? What will I after receiving rejections once again? It would be so easy to just give up now and walk away from it all so that I don't have to face rejection and disappointment from myself and my parents once again.  

    This feeling is like a parasite in my brain that continues to feed on my endless anxiety and fear of failure. It has been fed well these past many years from my never-ending trials and mistakes, so it continues to grow and chew its way into all my thoughts. I don't really see an escape from its voice, but I have learned to ignore it most of the time. It is difficult but possible. 


   One of my wise friends always reminds me I might as well attempt something because the time will continue to move and pass no matter what I do. If it doesn't work out and there are no doors left to try, then would be the time to figure out a Plan B. She is right. I have made age a measure of progress when time is just a mere reminder of change and everyone's timelines are different. I have noticed that as I force myself to just focus on the next step; I end up eventually making a progress instead of giving up initially and not moving forward at all. My husband, another beautiful soul in my life, also continues to urge me forward and not worry about the time lost and the financial aspect of it. He reminds me that money comes and goes and we are young enough to figure it out if we need to. Both of us will work hard so we can attain our goals together, whatever it takes. Knowing I have his full support also eases my mind because I know it is stressful for him to support us both, and I do not want to be the burden that drags us both under.

    Each class I completed and every exam I pass is one step forward. Slowly, inch by inch, I made my way through the years and graduated from medical school. I have passed 3/4 of my board exams and I can apply for residency now. Each step of the way whenever that parasite crept into my thoughts, I would ask myself why should I stop now after all this effort. I have come too far to let go of everything I worked so hard for because of fear of failure and disappointment. This is how I continue to move forward, even if it is painstakingly one step at a time because there is no such thing as turning back. I have focused on accomplishing the immediate tasks that will help take me where I aim to go and who I am to become. The rest is not in my hands because the universe moves with its own plans but at least I know that I have given it my absolute all. I may not be the best, but I will be the best I can be in all aspects of my life. I need not impress others I just need to make those under my care and those whom I love feel loved and secure. 

   Rejections are not meant to stop us in our tracks but help us in refocusing our paths or serve as a reminder that maybe it is best to try again or work a little harder. 

Until Next Time,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.
Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan

Your copyright

Copyright © 2020 TheWanderingGypsyDoc. All rights reserved.