On the Fear of Not Being Enough

If you are a new grad, you’ve probably heard the message, whether internally from your own voice in your head or externally from product marketers: “Do you really even know what you’re doing?”

It’s a valid question.

Do any of us know what we’re doing?

What does it mean to know what you’re doing?

Does it mean having all the answers?

Does it mean being right?

Who gets to define what’s right?

Is it ok to question an expert?

Is it ok to think differently?

Is it ok to think for yourself?

Is it ok for people to respectfully disagree?

If something works for one patient, but not for another, does that invalidate the first patient’s experience?

If one clinician with 30 years of experience says X and another clinician with 30 years of experience says Y, is one of them right and one of them wrong?

Can two different thoughts be valid and contradictory at the same time?

Do paradoxes exist?

If one study validates an intervention, but another study can’t conclusively support it, which study is the most true?

These are all questions that ultimately, throughout your career, will tie back to the definition of the scope and truth of your clinical practice.

The unknown is a scary thing. It feels dark and deep and an easy place in which to get lost. The fear of incompetency is equally as scary. We certainly don’t want to feel like we are failing our patients. It’s a horrifying thought that people come to us for answers and we might not have the best one for them in that moment in time.

But if I can impart to you this one truth, it will not seem so scary:

This feeling you have- of questioning your judgment- this is the most powerful tool you have to carry you through your career. The moment that you lose this is the moment you lose your curiosity, your openness, and your passion and drive to learn and grow and build that clinical intuition. Never let the fear of failure or fear of being “wrong” destroy your ability to question and learn and grow. Never let your fear of not being enough be something that tears down other clinicians in the ever-growing battle of who is right and who is wrong.

My hope for you is that you are always questioning, always learning, always seeking out a variety of perspectives and thoughts and research. I hope that you never lose sight of the fact that there are no black and white answers, no one-size-fits-all solutions. You have chosen a career that is incredibly diverse, both in scope of practice and in patient wants and needs. You will never be bored. Sometimes you will get it right, and sometimes you will miss the mark. This is the world. This is life. We learn, we grow, we are transformed.

You and your curiosity will accomplish great things in your career. You’ve got this.

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