Self doubt, see ya

We all like to think that the world resolves around us (at least a bit) whether we like to admit it or not. I am not exception this. This is why I care about women in medicine, women in leadership and women reaching the top of whatever they are doing. These are all aspirations I have for myself. I have a vested interest in caring.

I am also Muslim. From an ethnic minority immigrant family. Of course I care about inequality.

I grew up in a family when I was never told I wasn’t capable of doing what I wanted to do. I don’t have any brothers (I am the youngest of two sisters) so there was never a male sibling for me to be compared to, but I suspect it would have made little difference. I have had nothing but encouragement. My dad has told me to keep up my writing whilst I am working and recently told me I needed to improve my diction (for that time I would have to give a talk). He also said that I should try and do a PhD. As for the typical asian thing of telling your child to get married asap, no one would ever say that to me. The focus is and has always been on me doing what makes me happy. I got pretty lucky with my family.

Looking back thought, it is sad to think that the limiting factor in me getting to where I want to be has sometimes been myself. The very person who should be pushing for the best.

I can so clearly remember the first time that I realised, truly, how hard I was on myself. There is that good being hard on yourself that pushed you and then there was what I was doing. That Salma was crazy and nothing would have ever been good enough for her. I realised this during some teaching in 4th year on paediatrics. Not only did I struggle to name a single good thing I did I also saw a massive difference in confidence level between me and my male colleague.

We can’t and shouldn’t stereotype, but this is a pattern I have seen over and over again.

I’m talking about two people matched equally on paper and the male, 9 times out of 10 having more confidence or at leat appearing to have so.

I think a lot of women have a lot of negative ruminations going on. Or at least I did, but I never identified them. When I did, everything changed. You have to identify a behaviour if you want to change it. I don’t second guess myself anymore. If I don’t know I say so. If I know I know.

In my new job I have been told I am confident and ambitious. These compliments probably wouldn’t have come my way if I continues as I was.

What self talk do you have when you’re in a group? Do you tell yourself your question is a stupid one? Or hold back from giving the answer even when you know it? If you do. Think about why. If you are happy to go on this way, then carry on my friend, but if not then think about how you will change. I honestly think that identification of the issue in the biggest hurdle.

Saying cheerio to self doubt has been one of the best things I have ever done. Only then can you just be. And excel.

Until the next post, Salma xx

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