“’C’ students make the best doctors.”
It’s something I heard quite a bit in vet school. Perhaps it was just something people said to make themselves feel better when they didn’t ace that test. But as an “A” student, it was a major trigger for imposter syndrome. Afterall, just because I could handle a test, didn’t mean I could handle being a clinician.
It filled me with dread. The imposter syndrome was real. What if I were a terrible vet? What if clients hated me? What if I couldn’t draw blood or keep my hands steady when I was in surgery? What if I couldn’t handle the pressure of the real world? What if I failed? What if…what if…what if…?
Full disclosure, back in vet school, I had a pretty bad case of social anxiety.
Put me in front of a scantron form and I was fine, put me in front of a client and I panicked. I still remember the day I got my evaluation for my emergency and critical care rotation—“subpar,” the resident called me. My worst fear had come true
But it wasn’t my skills that made me subpar, it was my fear. I’d systematically avoided taking cases as much as humanly possible because I was so afraid of being a terrible doctor. I was afraid clients wouldn’t like me. I was afraid they’d yell at me. I was afraid of taking on the responsibility they were bestowing upon me. I was afraid good grades weren’t enough—that I wasn’t enough. And my fear made it into reality.
The truth is, some of the best doctors I know were “C” students. But that didn’t mean I, a book worm “A” student, was destined to work in a secluded lab with a monkey by my side—too socially inept to handle clients. It just meant that grades were only one part of the equation.
We all worry that we’re not good enough.
That’s what imposter syndrome is. And we ALL have it.
But none of us is naturally great at everything. Maybe you’re a “C “student looking at all the “A” students and worrying that you’re not smart enough. Or maybe you’re an “A” student looking at the “C” students and worrying that you’re not as good at dealing with people as they are. No matter who you are, or what your innate strengths are, it may always seem like someone else has it easier. It may always seem like someone else is more suited for your dream job.
But that fear does not have to control you. If you let it keep you from putting yourself out there, then you really will be “subpar.” But if you can push past it, you can thrive. You can discover new skills, and strengths. You can be the person you were always meant to be.
Afterall, who would have thought that frightened vet student whose social anxiety kept her from taking cases in clinics, would one day be writing and lecturing on the very skills she thought only those “C” students had.