on confidence

On confidence.

As far as I can remember, I’ve always felt inadequate, incompetent and quite stupid. I have constantly compared myself to others and felt I’ve come up short next to my peers. This has been one of the major stressors in my life, making me feel quite depressed on numerous occasions. I have low self-confidence, low self-esteem and low self-worth, which I suppose mixes up to an almost lethal cocktail of depression and anxiety.

I recently started working at a hospital and I felt completely useless on most days. I felt stupid for making mistakes and there were so many days I felt that I shouldn’t even be paid because of my incompetence. I came on home and burst into tears on an occasion and it has contributed to me having a depressive episode. I felt so overwhelmed and overcome with anxiety it took over my thoughts and the fear of making mistakes was always at the back of my mind. I felt so trapped and longed for the day my boss would fire me so I didn’t have to go through the ordeal over and over again.

Last week, I spoke to one of my bosses and told her I didn’t have the necessary skillset to live up to the expectations they had of me and that they should find someone that could do the job better than I could. I expected her to agree with me, I expected many negative words to come flying back at me and was quite prepared to take a tongue-lashing. Instead, what she said actually silenced me for a while. She said she and the other boss were very happy with me. Yes, I did make mistakes, but who hasn’t. I was doing absolutely fine and nobody expects me to be perfect. I only just started, there was no expectation for me to know everything and be perfect.

It was then that I realised the person putting me down was myself. I was the one giving myself unreasonable expectations and crucified myself when I fell short of perfection.

Looking back on all my work experiences and jobs, I realised I’ve actually done pretty well for myself. Most of my feedback has been great. The times when I didn’t get a great feedback, I realise most problems were on the other person’s end.

Today at prac class, as much as I felt my peers be slightly dismissive to me, I was doing fine. At times I was slightly nervous, but each time, I got the job done. I am better than I thought I would be, more comfortable than others and oddly enough quite calm throughout the whole class. I did freak out when I thought the cow was going to kick my face, but who wouldn’t?

On top of that, I learnt that because I always felt inferior, lousy and quite silly on many occasions, I’m humble and willing to learn. This is something I have noticed many of my peers are not. We are in a course that is quite hard to get into, where everybody was the top in his or her class before coming in. Hence, accepting help, instruction and feedback is difficult because it’s not something they are use to. I am also more patient with myself, giving myself more time to get things right, less worried about failing. I don’t treat my peers badly if they can’t get it right because I know how much it sucks to feel incompetent.

I’m not nearly ‘there’ yet by any means. I still get upset when I don’t get things right and feel quite dumb when somebody hands me a whole page of instructions (because I can’t actually read it). But I’m learning that I’m honestly not nearly as incompetent as I thought myself to be. I’m learning that though my strengths lie not in academia, I’m good with my hands and respond well to being thrown in the deep end. 🙂

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