I failed a test in medical school. I got my score back and there it was: 57%. I wasn’t even close.
I felt shocked, because I have never failed a test before. I felt embarrassed, because I was comparing myself to my peers. And I felt dumb. But the worst part about this experience wasn’t the fact that I got a low score — the worst part is the identify shift that accompanies a “failing” grade. I felt like I, as a person, was a “failure.”
It’s hard not to. Medical school is set up as a series of exams, and preparing for them leaves room for almost nothing else. We must put the other parts of our identities aside as we throw ourselves into test after test after test. We begin to define ourselves by the scores we achieve.
This past weekend, I reminded myself of the parts of my identity where I’m happy and thriving. I had to remind myself that I’m a whole person and NOT just the number of a test score. I reminded myself that there are more important things in this world than an exam. Returning to the big picture like that allowed me to get grounded and back on my feet, ready to tackle whatever comes next.
I hope this can be used as a reminder for you to expand your scope of focus, not getting too sucked into any one thing or letting it define you. We are amazing and versatile beings, and WE get to choose what our identity is based on :)