Great Expectations.

Yes, it’s exam period. Yes, I’m supposed to be studying. No, this isn’t really procrastination. It’s something that has been on my mind for years and I figured there really isn’t a better time for me to write about it than right now.

I expect a lot from myself. Sometimes, I push these high expectations onto those around me. It’s really bad.

I’m not sure why I expect so much from myself. My parents never pressured me to be the best. They never compared me to my cousins or friends. They always told me that my best is all that I can give, and that they’re happy if I do everything to the best of my abilities. All the pressure I put on myself comes from within. At it’s worst, the pressure tells me to stop doing things that I’m not the best at. Basically it tells me to give up if I can’t be #1, which is stupid because that would mean never getting anywhere in life.

These expectations extend beyond academics. If I plan an event, it has to be perfect. If I bake something, it has to be perfect. Heck, this post has to be perfect. And it doesn’t matter how many times people tell me something is fine the way it is. If it isn’t exactly how I planned it in my head, it isn’t perfect. I have a problem.

Things are going to change though.

I recently completed a 5-week clinical placement during which I learnt an invaluable lesson. No one expects me to know everything, so I shouldn’t expect myself to know everything. I started clinics by putting immense pressure on myself. It was incredibly unrealistic. I expected myself to know the program inside out when in reality, we’d only had one 3-hour class introducing us to the material. I kept kicking myself every time I did something wrong or forgot to say certain things. It was exhausting. I wasn’t doing as terribly as I thought I was though. By my clinical educator’s standards, I was exceeding all expectations. She reminded me that this was my first clinical experience and that I wasn’t expected to be perfect. Even experienced clinicians make mistakes, and mistakes are okay.

This lesson is something I’m going to carry with me to my next clinic and for the rest of my life. It’s unrealistic to expect myself and others to be perfect. We can never be perfect because we are all flawed. That doesn’t mean I’m going to live my life with zero expectations – it just means I’ll lower my expectations to something a little more realistic.

And now, back to studying.

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