This is a self-reflection post.
I think I have given my friends and the people around me the impression that I’m very confident in what I want to do, that my commitment and determination is a result of the epiphany or that it comes naturally to me. It’s true that once I put my mind into doing something, I’ll chase it down to the ends of the earth in order to achieve it. But I was not confident at all, I was unsure if I can commit to taking this big step, I had fears and doubts.
- What makes me think I can handle this job?
- Should I really be getting my degree then abandoning it?
- Am I crazy to pick a job that seems to have less benefits and income than one which I can get with my degree?
- Will I be able to handle the emotional roller coaster that comes with the job?
- I’ve seen amputated arms, legs, severe burns, lacerations, protruding eyes in textbooks, but will I be able to handle trauma in real life or will I neglect my patient to puke in the corner?
- Will I be able to pull myself out of the nightmares of certain calls?
- Will I burnout and quit?
- Can I handle the long and odd work hours?
- Will I be able to get through the guilt if a patient dies in my care?
- What if I get into this field and realize it’s not really the right job? That it really was all just a dream?
Step #1 Confidence and Commitment
I didn’t even realize it at the time, but it was the people around me who gave me the confidence to step outside of the box when I had to, to chase after something I was unsure of. I bet none of the people around me even realized that they were the ones that helped me pursue this dream. In fact, I didn’t even realize how it all happened until I started to reflect.
I’m not saying that this method of creating commitment and building confidence works for everyone, but it works for me. Peter Koci, my outdoors pursuits teacher once told our class:
Experiential Model of learning involves four steps. The last and most important one is Social Confirmation. After learning something new (be it an idea, a strategy, philosophy etc), you have to confirm it with others in order to gain confidence that it works or that it is true.
Social Confirmation, that is the key. I remember after some contemplation, I decided to tell my friends that I wanted to be a paramedic. At this point, I was still questioning myself. Thankfully the close friends I discussed this with were very supportive and said they can totally see me in the field. Confirmation? Check. That was a confidence booster. Then I started telling everyone whom I chanced upon. I found that each time I told someone “I’m going to be a paramedic” helped bind me to my goal. The more people I tell, the stronger the connection. It’s like making a promise. I can’t say “I’m going to be a paramedic” then back out, since everyone now has an expectation of where I’ll be in the future. Breaking that is like telling a good friend: “Yes I’m going to Japan with you”, but then ditching out the minute before boarding the flight. I never break promises, maybe this is why it’s effective for me.
Step #2 What About the Fear Part?
Answer is simple. Just face it. There is no real way of knowing whether this feeling of this is it! is really it, or if I’ll burn out, or if I can’t handle the stress etc etc. until I actually do it. I found that talking to people who are in the field helped ease my concerns, they answered questions that were bothering me, and more often than not, they were happy to lend a hand.
Note: If you’re having trouble getting connections to someone in the field that interests you, try setting up an Information Interview or just dropping by an ER or at an ambulance station and talk to the paramedics. I know people who have done this and it has proven to be very effective.