Have you ever faced a challenge and someone has told you to your face that you will not succeed? Did it only make your resolve to succeed stronger?
When I was in dental school I had to take an important exam that could make or break me. Thirty minutes before the test I ate a suspicious chicken salad sandwich in the
dungeon basement of the school. As I sat down to take the exam, the nausea and feverish feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that if I told the intructor that I was ill, they would never believe me. I looked fine and it was too much of a coincidence to fall ill seconds before an exam.
I made a poor choice and decided to sit through the exam anyways. I raced through the test not knowing what answers I was filling in on the scantron. I barely read the questions before answering them. I was even resorting to the old saying, ‘when in doubt, put C’. Bad advice. There were a ton of ‘C’s circled on my doomed scantron. In my entire education I had never raced through an exam. It was a nightmare.
The scores were posted and I recieved a 70%. The head of the dept. pulled me into her dingy office to tell me that if I didn’t get an ‘A’ on the final exam, I would fail the course. (if the math here sounds odd, don’t worry, the logistics of it will hurt your brain. I still don’t understand it) If I failed this class, I would have to stay an extra year and retake this one class. I wouldn’t be allowed to continue to third year. (this class had nothing to do with the practice of dentistry) In a futile effort, I explained to her what had happened to me right before the exam. She did not believe me.
It did not matter that I had excelled in the rest of my classes. This one exam in this one class had the ability to ruin me. I will never forget when that department head looked me in the eyes and told me that people rarely got ‘A’s on this final and that I should prepare myself for an extra year. She did not believe I could do it.
I walked out of her office with tears of anger forming behind my eyes. Tears that I did not let this person see. She did not know me and what I was capable of. I was angry because I felt judged. I decided that I would show her that I would succeed. Then I realized that it was not about her. It was about me. I had to prove it to myself. It was about my belief in myself.
I studied hard and told myself I would get the grade I needed. Failure was not an option. The day of the exam came and the next day the scores were posted. I walked over to the wall knowing the power that the little number on the wall could have over my life. I closed my eyes, exhaled and looked at the scores. Not only did I get an ‘A’, but I also got the highest grade in the class. Much to the ire of this guy in my class who was used to getting the highest score. Our scores were posted next to our anonymous ID numbers. He looked at the wall and yelled, “Hey! Who beat me?!” I just smiled and said nothing. It wasn’t about him either.
The point is that if someone tells you that you cannot succeed at something and you believe them, then you will fail. It is as simple as that. Choose to believe in yourself instead and understand that another person cannot define you as a failure. Only you can define yourself. If you believe in yourself, then you will win.
The moral of the story? Believe in yourself and never let another person bring you down. Never eat a chicken salad sandwich in a basement of a building served by a guy in a dirty T-shirt. Words to live by. (to this day I cringe when I see chicken salad)..Also, never ever under any circumstances pay a visit to the ‘airport doctor’ in an airport in the Dominican Republic. (I don’t care how sick you feel)…That last one has nothing to do with the post but it’s still great advice.