A Leap of Faith
Written by Dr. Saloni Haldule, Intern, BJGMC and Sassoon General Hospitals, Pune
We often find ourselves reminiscing about being a child. I think what we miss most is the optimism that comes with it. I remember being in school and feeling like the sky was the limit. I thought if I just worked hard enough, and put myself out there, all my dreams would be within reach. This is often the narrative that we are raised with, we see it in movies and hear it from our mentors until we believe it to be true. And while I acknowledge that the crux of this belief is rooted in privilege for however long it is held, I speak without envy when I say that many people are fortunate enough to continue with this outlook for most of their lives. For myself, however, I don’t know when it changed.
I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was 8 years old. I have been surrounded by people within the field all my life and, as a natural consequence, it evoked within me a love for biology and medicine that has kept me going to this day. In that sense, I consider myself lucky to not have to doubt my “why” or my “purpose”, if you will. However, what I seem to be struggling with is my “how”. On paper it seems simple enough, I have finished my MBBS and am currently in my internship, so I’m on the right path… “halfway there”, as people keep reminding me. And yet it feels as if I couldn’t be further away from my goal if I tried. In fact, today I feel even more distant from it than I did back in high school. Each step between where I am now and where I want to be, personally and professionally, seems like an insurmountable obstacle that I cannot bring myself to tackle.
What’s even more interesting is that I am not alone in feeling this! Many of my colleagues, or even people my age outside of medicine, will be quick to tell you they feel lost and don’t know what they are doing. The difference is some look at it as a challenge with that same “the world is my oyster” outlook while others, like myself, seem to get caught up in the logistics and unnecessary details and begin to feel limited by our circumstances.
For the longest time, I could not figure out when I went from being so motivated to being racked with so much doubt. I suspect it was during the pandemic, when everything I had hoped for, and thought was so crucial to the development of my life as I saw it, disappeared into a puff of smoke while we collectively dealt with something unimaginable. It made me realise that there is so much beyond my control and, despite my most concerted efforts, things may not work out according to plan. Ever since then, I have been on a downward spiral of negativity, thinking things like “it’s not possible anymore” and “it’s too late to fix things now”. Only recently have I found myself questioning these feelings and trying to work past them.
I read a quote that really resonated with me: “Your reason and passion are the rudder and sails of your sea-faring soul. If either be broken, you can but toss and drift or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining… and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction”. It then dawned on me, that as I got older, the balance between my driving force and my cautious nature was tipping dangerously towards the latter. I became increasingly concerned with doing things “the right way”. Having never really experienced failure, I became paralysed by the thought of it, so much so that I began to rule things out for myself before even trying. I was so consumed with the fear of waking up one day and regretting all my decisions, that “regret” itself became the big bad monster under my bed.
I always wondered why it seemed that others could keep going while I couldn’t help but hold myself back, and the explanation was the same as that for the feeling of nostalgia I get when thinking of my younger self. As children and adolescents, our naïveté allows our flame to burn bright and fuel us. When we grow up, see more of the world, and realise some of its harsher realities, this begins to change and we give in to more of our confining forces. While this may a natural part of the process, where I think I went wrong is giving in to them completely, until I was just barely floating.
Now, I realise the only sure-shot way to be filled with regret is to be too afraid to go after something in the first place. I am trying to remind myself of the fact that “failing” is not the worst thing that can happen to me. True strength, I realised, is seeing the world as I do now and choosing to believe that achieving my dreams is possible anyway. It lies in stepping into the next part of my journey without knowing exactly where it may take me and, against all perceived odds, hoping for the best. It may have taken me longer to get here than others, but I finally feel like I am at a point where I can do this with clarity. I have accepted that I am on my own journey and though I may not have it all figured out now, I will eventually get there. Slowly I can feel myself thinking “let’s try” and “what’s the worst that can happen”, and that’s the closest I’ve gotten to childhood optimism in years. Baby steps. So here I am, 23, slightly lost but on my way, trying oh so hard to take a leap of faith. Tell me I am not alone…
About the Author
I am an intern doctor at BJGMC and Sassoon General Hospitals, Pune and am passionate about the field of healthcare and research.