Sunday, October 02, 2005

Confidence - or lack thereof

I am hoping that by typing this, it may help me re-think my life and what I am doing later. Or maybe it will just feel good to get this off my chest since it's been bothering me all week.

I have very little confidence in my abilities. It causes me no end of distress to even admit this to myself.

I didn't used to be like this. In high school, I was totally confident in myself and knew what I was doing and what I wanted to do. Yes, life was simpler then, but I made it challenging. I love challenges - I thrive on doing things that are difficult and require thought or work - especially school - I've always been good at that.

So, why has that changed? High school was a short 15 years ago (my GOD I'm getting old!). I think I've narrowed it down this week to two possiblities:
1) My dad and/or
2) My ex-husband

I love my dad. I really do, and this is not to say he did a bad job raising me or anything else. But, he did push me and always taught me that 100% isnt' good enough- you give it 110%. You do it right or don't do it at all. These were the values and principles he instilled in me. I will NOT bore anyone with my C in AP Calculus story and how I was grounded as a senior. But, C's (even on exams) were not acceptable in my house. B's were quasi-acceptable. A's were considered to be the best I could do and should always strive for - it didn't matter the subject or the difficulty - if I wasn't getting an A, I wasn't applying myself. My dad did this for a couple of reasons: 1) he knew I could do it. He had every confidence in my abilities and thought that would be the best way to make me see what I could accomplish. 2) He wanted me, very badly, to go to college and then to med school. I could have - I had the grades for it. Hell - I was making a B in Biochemistry in college and I had pre-med majors around me failing. I tutored some of them. Why not med school? In comes the ex-husband.

My ex really did subject me to about 12 years of psychological abuse. It began in high school. He would always find someone better to date - leading me to believe I wasn't good enough, or I wasn't pretty enough, or accomplished enough, or smart enough, or talented enough (we were both in band). He dated anyone and everyone after dumping me - even my friends. It didn't end when we were in college or engaged the first or second times or married. He constantly compared me to other women and would make comments about how I could be like them if I did this or that. I won't bore with details - most have been (thankfully) forgotten. However, he wouldn't support me in my dreams and goals to go back to school for my master's, much less even consider allowing me to go to med school and supporting me while I was doing it. Why? I might actually prove to be better than him. The only way he could feel better, was to make me feel worse and keep me "lower" than him - financially, academically, any way possible.

I had a test about a week or so ago - in my hardest class. I haven't had a science course in college for 10 years. I have two grad level classes this semester (along with 3 other classes - yeah, I'm insane). I haven't had the pre-requisites for this course - and I got an override to be in there to begin with. I didn't stress when I took the actual test, I stressed when the prof came back with the score breakdown for the course. It's mixed grads and undergrads and some of the grad students are in the Ph.D. program. The grades for grads (say that 5X fast ;) were: 3 A's, 2 B's, and 3 C's. So, my overactive, underconfident mind goes into action. I couldn't possibly make an A with Ph.D. students in the class, or even a B when there are actual master's students in molecular and microbiology program in the class. So, I was pretty sure I had made a C, possibly a B if I were lucky.

I got an A. Not just an A - a perfect score on an entirely essay exam. I half expected the prof to ask me in to confront me to see if I had cheated somehow. Even after earning the grade - I expected them to question me. How stupid is that??? I earned it. I studied. I read. I took notes. I reviewed. I worked my butt off. I earned it. But, in the far back corner of my mind, that little underconfidence voice whispers - 'you didn't deserve it'.

I often wonder why I do the things I do and why I seem to be killing myself to finish my degrees. Or why I did my National Boards during my divorce. This obsessive need I have to prove myself - to everyone else - but I guess also to myself. I AM good enough. I AM smart enough. I CAN do these things. So the question really is: is doing all this a method to regain my confidence that I lost in the 12 years of my ex? Or is it to prove to everyone who always said I couldn't do something that I really can? Or is it both in some small way?


At 1:03 AM, October 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 1:19 PM, October 02, 2005, Blogger jon said...

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At 12:19 PM, October 03, 2005, Blogger noelle feather said...

Congrats on the "A". You rock! :)


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