Bumbling through – where’s that confidence?

I’m sure being tested, these days. Emotionally, mentally, physically …

I know I’ve mentioned this before, however, sometimes I feel so slow, so foolish, that I can’t remember what it felt like to be a strong businesswoman merely 6 months ago. Leading meetings, coordinating and planning advertising campaigns; I did that?

What gives, confidence?

I guess any learner would understand this feeling. The feeling of being completely out of your depth; of knowing that you have a long way to go to reach mastery. The feeling of watching people who are clearly experienced and good at their job, and wishing you could just snap your fingers and be at that level.

I find this especially difficult because I’ve had a career before, one in which I had 8 years invested in the mastery bank. Ideally, I could just snap my fingers and get those 8 years of experience transferred over from the communications bank to the health care bank. Stat.

Instead I have to start again and I find myself frustrated when I bumble through simple tasks that just shouldn’t be so damn complicated. It’s as though I am watching myself from up above, and thinking, “Girl. There’s no reason you should have a client getting up and down off a bed three times! What the hell are you doing down there? She’s 35 weeks pregnant!”

Shouldn’t I know better? I’m skilled at doing things systematically, so why can’t I remember to check her thyroid before I checked her baby? I’m so busy trying to memorize all the things we have to do in a clinic visit that I can’t step back and organize things effectively. The improvement slope is fucking slow.


Annoyed with myself

Now that we’re at the one month mark, I am increasingly annoyed with myself for not being able to pick things up more quickly. Though I’d rather ask for help then do something wrong, my soul still hates asking for clarification, or asking my preceptor to repeat the procedure for something I have done at least 3 times. I’ve never not been able to pick things up quickly, read between the lines, or excel at something, so forgetting makes me angry at my own brain. As a special bonus, just when I think I’ve got it down, a client delivers her baby over a toilet with the cord wrapped around its neck and my entire foundation is readjusted … this makes me wonder, is it the profession that takes time to learn, or is it me?

I guess this is why a lot of people don’t start again and stay in professions that maybe don’t spark their passions, but leave them with a sense of familiarity and certainty. If you’re good at something, and you’ve invested time into learning it, why would you leave it?

Because you’re bat-shit crazy, that’s why. (Oh sorry, I mean … because you’re following your dreams?)


Confidence, where art thou?

Starting again is scary, and, hard. It shakes your comfort and confidence.
It’s the most fucking humbling thing I’ve ever done. Try as I might, it’s very hard to channel the confidence I had in my previous career. I know it’s there, somewhere, but it seems to be selective in when it makes its appearance; and while I can deliver one heck of convincing presentation to management, I’m way less certain when I’m inserting a catheter, or checking someone’s cervix for dilation status. I just don’t want to get those wrong!

So instead, I furiously scribble down the step by step process that my preceptor did … and then inevitably forget at least 3 things when it’s my turn to do it. I put gloves on backwards. I can’t find the introitus the first time. I can’t zero a baby scale. I can’t feel the cervix because all I can feel is a giant fucking baby head. I write things in the wrong place on the charts. I can’t find the friggin’ wash cloths in an emergency … WHERE ARE THE FUCKING WASH CLOTHS?!

I am Woody in this here meme.

I am Woody in this here meme.


The Bright Side

Luckily for me, my preceptor is kind and understanding. She writes me little sticky notes in the chart when I’ve forgotten to include something. She gives me feedback on things she wants to see next time in our discussion. She sits in the office and ties knots with me to prepare me for suturing. She praises me when she thinks I’ve done well. Hell, she let’s me stumble. If she didn’t, I don’t think I would ever find out the things I don’t know. I’m truly lucky that we get along and that she encourages me to try (again … and again … and again …).

As I said in a recent interview with our student union, I have to believe that it’s important to be patient with yourself during this process. They wouldn’t have made the program 4 years long if they expected you to be able to learn all the details in a month, right? Perhaps my 8 years of experience has banked over in that regard; maybe it’s given me a sense of understanding that I will get there, and that I can get there. Even though I get frustrated, maybe my previous career has made me more confident in ways that I don’t yet understand.

… or maybe it’s made me more of a slacker who needs to work just a little harder. Who knows!

For now, I’ll just keep plugging away.


2 responses

  1. This resonates with me so much. I’m so used to being good at everything I try. This is waaaaay out of my knowledge and comfort zone. It’s been a big adjustment to be at the bottom of learning something that I really thought I knew a lot about!
    But you’re right. There wouldn’t be such a long period of study time if this was something we could learn quickly. The experience and slow learning is worth it if I can be even half as good as my preceptors seem to be.

    • Huge expansion of comfort zone, you’re so right Hailey. I think we just have to take every learning opportunity for what it is and have faith that by graduation we will know most of the things … right? 🙂

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