I didn't exactly cover myself in glory, academically speaking, in high school. I wasn't all that interested in the subject matter and cemented myself as an under-achiever. This was confirmed by my year 10 maths teacher telling my parents that I would never amount to anything good, like a doctor or a lawyer, because I wasn't good at maths.
As it turns out, I was good at maths and science. In fact I went on to study them at university and graduated with a medical degree with honours. Something just clicked a bit later than my parents were hoping for. How ironic that not only am I a doctor, I'm a surgeon. I wonder if my maths teacher knows that?
What that comment represents to me is the start of a long line of people telling me that I couldn't do it. I wouldn't get into medical school, wouldn't finish medical school, wouldn't be a surgeon, couldn't run a half marathon, and the list goes on. A lifetime of being chronically underestimated and of people making no bones about telling me this. In fact, just this morning, I received a text from a surgeon I used to work for congratulating me on my achievements, especially since his colleague didn't think I 'had it in me'.
I cannot quite describe how saddening it is sometimes to be constantly underestimated. Even after all that has happened, meeting and exceeding expectations, it seems some people never thought I could. Or maybe it was rather that they hoped I wouldn't, out of some personal pride. I don't think I will ever know.
As sad as it makes me feel, I have never actually accepted that I am not good enough. That's not to say that I am lacking in insight. If someone were to tell me that I will never be a Victoria Secret model, I will definitely believe that. However, for all the people who told me I wasn't smart enough, wasn't good enough, was female and countless other remarks, they are a part of why I have succeeded.
For every time someone has made me feel the emotional pain of being perceived as not good enough, that stinging remark just adds to the fire in the belly. They drive me to be better and give me satisfaction when I do in fact reach my goal.
Some days, I love being underestimated because then the competition never sees me coming. I'm not sure how many more times I will have to beat the critics before people start expecting achievement.
Never believe you are not good enough. There are mountains in life that will be out of our reach and that's fine. But never let anybody's unkind words and low expectations keep you from the ones you can reach.