“Pop quiz,” I read on my phone, as I blinked at its too eager face early this morning, bright and ready for the day. I was barely conscious and tapped out an answer – “Go ahead.”
What are three things you’re good at?
I stopped. This wasn’t a Step question, it wasn’t in my book. I asked if she was trying to make me cry that morning. She responded: What are three things that you’re good at? It’s important.
Though it was only a few moments between her second query and my eventual answer, in my mind it felt like centuries. I picked through every single moment of poor judgment, from when I was seven and yelled at my siblings to when I failed Step 1. When I closed my eyes to shake the feelings of inadequacy, my mind was racing – it seemed like a movie roll that was set on the wrong speed, images and thoughts flying by as my retina tried to make sense of it all. I took a deep breath because I didn’t understand – why was trying to come up with something I could do well, inducing so much panic?
Does she mean medical or just in general? Stop that, I chided myself – I was procrastinating. I don’t think it really made a difference if I answered using physician-specific characteristics versus what I was good at as a person outside of the hospital; ideally they were related anyway. How long do these answers have to be? I rolled my eyes. This isn’t an essay contest, I think I just needed to list them out. Why was I finding this so hard? Any time I thought of something, I cast it aside – you’re a good clinician (yeah, you haven’t seen a patient in three years), you’re a great team player (what team? No one thinks that but you), you’re a wonderful doctor (oh? A doctor without a license? An MD in name only, you mean?). Another second flashed by and my chest was tight – what was I good at?
I don’t know when I stopped being proud of myself. I don’t know when I decided that my accomplishments weren’t enough. I don’t know when I stopped celebrating the wins and started sitting in the losses. I blinked at my screen again, tapping out a few sentences in reply. Checked them over twice before hitting send because I still wasn’t sure if they were right – if I was right.
1. Remembering the small things about people that they think go unnoticed
2. Showing others around me that they are loved by me unconditionally
3. Sharing my love for medicine with the younger generation, and really anyone who asks.
No changing answers.