It’s like I told the twelve year old when she didn’t want to have her flu vaccination: “I won’t lie to you. It will hurt, but only a little. And just because it’s going to be a tiny bit painful, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.”
I look back and realise over the last four years, I have poured my heart and soul into my Medical degree. It may seem like some people to be a piece of paper I’m working towards but it’s been so much more for me, it has been an incredibly challenging personal journey. It’s been the catalyst that’s forced me to do things I never had to do before. I have slowly become more comfortable with things that previously filled me with fear. I am not the same person I was when I started. When I went into this degree, I was timid and didn’t know how to talk to people. I would get so nervous over the things I said that I would often just not talk at all at large group outings.
When I started Medicine, I decided that this shyness couldn’t go on, so I kept putting myself in those situations where I felt so uncomfortable because I wanted to figure it out. I went to parties that my gut told me not to go to. I observed other people, how they did it. I tried different techniques myself and made mistakes. I read books on how to approach and talk to people. I practised and practised some more, even though on some days, I felt so overwhelmed and anxious I had to leave in the middle of a social event and go to a safe place to recuperate.
Let’s zoom forward to one month ago: I was at a medical conference, alone, happily chatting to strangers I had never met. I felt no fear or anxiety. One person I met there even described me as “very social” and “independent“. I could not believe it, it was so far different to who I was five, ten years ago. A situation that initially filled me with overwhelming fear I could now tackle with some confidence. All that discomfort had not been for nothing.
Your gut feeling tells you that uncomfortable is bad. The feeling of discomfort is unsettling but can just be a sign that you’re doing something out of the norm; just something you’re not used to. New things are always uncomfortable to start with. If you stay in your comfort zone, it’s familiar, it’s safe, it’s comforting, you know what to expect. New is dangerous and uncertain, and when you try something new often you will make mistakes but if you figure out where you went wrong each time, you try again and will do better each time.
Here’s what I remind myself; if you always stay in your comfort zone, you’ll never try anything new. Whether it’s social skills, academic or creative pursuits, the principle is the same across all things. If you want to stick with what’s comfortable, I don’t blame you. It’s much safer to do what you know and adjust your world around it. However; if you want growth, expect some growing pains.
P.S.: I’ve umm-ed and ahh-ed about posting this because it makes me vulnerable. It is very personal and it’s also around the time I am sending out job applications. I worry that whatever I post might be making the wrong impression on possible future employers. However, this post proves that I am interested in being an effective communicator; it shows I have courage and I am interested in encouraging others to grow; it is an example of how I am flexible and will adapt to situations … and that’s surely the kind of person you would want to employ?
P.P.S.: BUB the majestical cat has nothing to do with this post but I wanted to break up the text with some visuals :) No watermarks on these because I think it ruins the wondrousness of BUB. Check out his facebook page too ;)