I have never, ever, been ruled by my own self doubt- even when I’m not confident, I move past the worry. As I begin this medical school application process, there’s much to be insecure about- my crappy grades, my test scores, my uncertainty about the people reading my application. I know that my case is unique, but everyone is unique. When it’s my future career that hangs in the balance, I can’t just not listen to this voice of doubt in my head. I know that it’s spewing completely irrational things, but the stakes are much too high here. My defense against the worst-case-scenario has always been to prepare. The only way to ‘prepare’ in this situation is to acknowledge the possibility that EVERYTHING goes wrong.
For example, I got my score back from the MCAT I took in March. I scored almost exactly average. When I first saw my score, I was angry and confused- I had talked myself into feeling ‘pretty good’ about a test that I honestly had mixed feelings about. On the day I took it, I walked out of that test having NO clue whether or not I did well. I figured that if I didn’t feel defeated, it couldn’t have been THAT bad right? I mean, it’s the fucking MCAT, I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to ever feel like you aced it. My test-taking instincts are almost always right, but in this case, I had been lying to myself.
I took the exam again in May, having regrouped and focused on the areas that I knew I was weakest in. I immediately felt overwhelmingly more positive about this attempt; there was much more that I KNEW that I knew, if that makes sense. But now, a day before I get my score back, it’s my doubtful voice’s cue to chime in. Yeah I felt good about it, but my score will only improve if I did at LEAST as well as last time. Since I wasn’t in a full-time class this time, how could I possibly have held onto my training? I’m having a really hard time not buying into the panic, but my fate has been decided and won’t change regardless of how much I worry.
If this were literally any other test score, I would be quick to let it go. It is what it is, and it’s not what it’s not. But this is so much more important to me. If it is what it is and it’s not great, I can’t just accept that and be passive in my pursuit of the rest of my life. Being okay with a less-than-stellar test score at this stage is equivalent to being okay with my application getting passed over. And that is most certainly not okay. At the root of this dilemma is just that it’s very difficult to be relaxed AND ambitious at the same time.