I really enjoy writing
But I have noticed that I really struggle to use my written words for things that I actually have an opinion on; mostly controversial things, things that have a wide scope of potentially inflammatory opinions
If you weren’t already aware, I’m a doctor, I graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 2017 and commenced RANZCP the psychiatric training programme last year (i.e. started my specialist training in Mental Health), I have almost 10 years of experience as a health professional; four of those post graduation and six years as a student with both theory and practical work, I have 27 years experience of exploring identity as a NZ born Samoan/Cook Islander and no doubt I have other of experiences under my belt but those are the main things that come to mind
Naturally, these experiences would lend credibility to my opinion on medical, psychiatric and Pacific identity right?
“Wrong!” Says my brain
When it comes to things I have a strong opinion on or feel strongly about, I find it really difficult to write those words down – I could verbalise them to someone, but writing them down, putting pen to paper or keyboard to computer screen, cementing in a document your thoughts on something – the idea of that makes me nervous
I’ve realised it’s because I’m scared of rejection. I fear people not agreeing with me; the potential discourse and questions, that I also feel unequipped to answer.
As we’ve aged, the things we have opinions about transform, it’s no longer what’s our favourite ice-cream or what’s the square root of 27 (very simple and linear topics), but what do we think about marriage, diet culture, abortions, racism, vaccines. Hard-hitting, provocative, controversial and very complex topics. The fear of shame that I grew up around as a child; where if I was wrong about something my natural reaction was to argue and get defensive, has come to light again in the form of fear as I cultivate my own ideas and thoughts about something.
The other things that fed into this include my 1) flexibility in my opinion on a number of topics, I do respect where other people’s experiences have bought them and I can understand how highly nuanced complex topics can be where there’s often no definite right or wrong answer, and 2) the thought that I need to have hard evidence to back up whatever my opinion is as well because this will decrease the likelihood of someone being able to say I’m wrong – where are the references!
But let’s be honest, how many people are out there in the world, speaking on topics they have no authority or experience to be speaking on?
I want to reject my fear of rejection and shame. Similar to launching this new blog, nothing has to be perfect, and I also need to remind myself that I’m not static. My opinions may change as new information is presented to me or as I gain further life experience and that’s okay! I have no obligation to anyone to be the same person I was yesterday (within reason, like don’t be an actual a**hole).
I’ll still do some research, maybe include some references, because that’s just good practice especially for my career and it’s best not to get lazy, but I don’t have to be super hard out about it.
It’s time to be confident in my experiences (that aren’t specific to me alone) and the opinions, thoughts and ideas that go along with them, I never know, my opinion might help someone to improve their understanding, see a different view point or create healthy discourse which will help to develop my own self.
Rejecting the fear of rejection? It’s a win win