18 March 2007


like the proverbial deer in headlights, i'm paralyzed. i've spent the past hour "trying" to read a chapter from my neuroanatomy textbook, but without any success. but there's the rub: in medical school, is there such a thing as success? and if so, what does it look like? i ask because i haven't found it yet....

throughout this whole first year, my colleagues and i have been involved in a dance of sorts--one where we're constantly being evaluated (there is, i kid you not, an exam of some kind every week, if not more often) and consequently re-evaluating ourselves. it was suggested to me, when i was a pre-medical student, that it takes aggression to survive and succeed in medical school; this, of course, was always presented to me in the context of me being deemed by someone to not have enough aggression to get into medical school, let alone through it. what i'm finding, however, is that it isn't aggression that is needed to be successful here. rather, it seems one must be completely unaware of any self-doubt one might have--and that's where i get definitively stuck.

over the christmas "break," i spent some time with my younger brother--i'll call him super_blaze for reasons that will soon become evident--who has decided to train for a triathlon. he'd gotten a training book that he shared with me. in it, there was an anecdotal story that i found quite interesting. it was about bumble bees. apparently, some scientists decided to study the bumble bee to see how it flies. after all, it's shape isn't exactly aerodynamic, nor are its proportions particularly indicative of flight capacity. so, the scientists did tests, and more tests, and even more tests. do you know what they determined? their studies proved that the bumble bee can't fly. as the book aptly noted, it's a good thing nobody told the bumblebee that. :-)

i suspect this is a quality that must also be inherent in someone training for a triathlon--after all, is it not hubris to assume that one can swim, run, and bike all those miles in one stretch? apparently super_blaze doesn't think so, because he's doing it. and it's amazing. but then, he's always been the type of person who can, for instance, jump off an eighty foot water tower and enjoy it. (<--no, i'm not making that up. he did that. and he didn't end up in the er, either.)

but i'm not super_blaze. (i must have been the practice trial in the gene development department for my family, because i developed with an intense fear of adrenaline endeavors, as well as a predisposition for losing body parts in spite of being relatively kind to my body....) i'm rather conscious of the fact that i cannot fly. in fact, one might say that i'm hyper-conscious of my limitations. but i'm beginning to think that, rather than serving as some protective function, this awareness is turning out to be a barrier. one that, in particular, precludes success in medical school.

so...how do i unlearn the consciousness that trying to learn all of neuroanatomy in six weeks is absurd? how do i convince myself that i can learn this, rather than assuming from the outset that i'm doomed to fail (again)? if i've already experienced failure here, then how come i'm so afraid of having it happen again? why am i so tangled up in my feelings about all of this?

i sure wish i had some answers....


j.p. said...

k, the thing is that you're not a bumblebee who can't fly. you are able, you just don't always see that.

hey, as you said to me. . .

"chin up & onward!"

(so there!)


Kristina said...

No answers...but I think all of us have been there at some point. (And I've never been to med school.)

My guess is it has little to do with being unaware of the self-doubt and everything with being able to recognize it, feel it for a couple of seconds, and then bury it and proceed with machine-like efficiency to get from point A to point B.

Good luck.

a little disclaimer...

i'm a medical student. just a student. so please, don't take anything i say too seriously. remember that i was an english literature major as an undergrad, so there is much fiction to be found in these pages. do you think i'm telling a story about you or your illness? more likely, you're tapping into my sense of "everyman"--that is, your story resonates with what i write here because it's not so uncommon after all. need help? please, please go see your physician. <--i'm not her. yet. ;-)