I still remember my first day walking into my new role as a Naturopathic Doctor (I mean, it wasn't all that long ago). This was it. I had my own office, my own business cards, my own patients! No one looking over my shoulder, double checking my treatment plans, micromanaging my choices. This was mine.
I'd been working my way towards this day for what seemed like forever, and I was met with sheer excitement and utter terror. I'd studied so hard, wrote multiple exams, spent months in practice, and proved my knowledge, yet I still somehow felt inadequate.
Looking back on a year since that first day, it's remarkable to reflect on what I've learnt in what seems like such a short period of time, both about medicine, and myself.
Be Comfortable with being Uncomfortable
Our first week of school, we had a class building excursion where we listened to a guest lecture by Dr. Khosroshahi, ND on this concept of being comfortable with being uncomfortable. At the time, I was skeptical. I was determined to be over-prepared for everything and ultimately beat that feeling of unease.
And then real life happened....
I was on my own, and people asked questions that I didn't fully know the answers to. Cases came through my door that did fit my flow charts.
The reality is, no matter how hard you work, how much prep you do... nothing is textbook. And that's ok. You don't have to have the answer to everything, you just have to be transparent.
I've become comfortable with the feeling of uncomfort, because at the end of the day, people respect honesty, and people see through bull$#!t. People respect when you admit you're unsure, but that you'll do your best to find the answer. People respect that you're real, and trust you more for it.
Some of my most difficult cases have become by best successes, and I think it's because people trusted me - really trusted me - to find the answers with them, not for them.
You Can't Help Everyone
Both in practice, and in life.
When I first started out, I was trying to be everything that everyone needed. Their doctor, their grocery list, their stress management technique, etc. I was burning myself out. I'd blame myself when people weren't seeing results or following recommendations.
And then I came to terms with the reality that you just can't help everyone.
But no matter how hard you work, how much research you do, how good your plan may be... some people don't want to change. And that's ok, too.
It's not your job to force change, but to open the doorway to it. All you can do is be the road signs to help people on their journey, but you can't take the steering wheel for them.
Don't be afraid to push limits.
Don't be afraid to test the waters.
Don't be afraid to do something that terrifies you, because you never know what might result.
Believe it or not, deep down, I'm actually an incredibly shy person. I'm always terrified to say the wrong thing, to not contribute something worth-while, to not be "liked". As a result, I never raised my hand in class. I crippled at the concept of public speaking. I hid behind other people's message. But I knew that to really help people, I had to let them know who I was, and I had to let them know I was there.
So I went for it. I started health nights, which turned into corporate talks, guest lectures, and wellness fairs.
It turns out... I love it! Who knew?
I'm now partnered with a handful of different companies to provide public health webinars, corporate health presentations, and I'm being asked to attend wellness fairs to share my message.
Wait, what? All from a girl who's terrified of public speaking?
I pushed my limits, committed to things that terrified me, and what I learnt was that the root to my fear wasn't that I didn't believe my message, but that I didn't trust myself to deliver it.
Trust yourself, because you always have something worthwhile to share.
Learn to say 'NO'
When I first started out, I jumped on every bandwagon. I committed to things that my gut wasn't always so sure of. I said yes to everything.
But through my short experience in the real world of self-employment, I've learnt that patience REALLY is a virtue, and that the worst thing you can do for yourself is to spread yourself too thin. When you commit to everything, everything ends up working a little, and nothing ends up working a lot.
Focus your energy in one direction, and learn to say no (both to others, and yourself).
This last year has been revolutionary, and I still have oh so much to learn. Every day has its varying degrees of uncomfort, challenges, obstacles, and mistrust, but I'm learning to embrace it.
I hope you are too!
Always in Health and Wellness,