What If? (The Exam Musings of A Panic Psychiatry MO)

What If?

What if it doesn’t work out,
What if all my dreams shattered,
buried under layers of shroud,
What if I come home battered,
or become  lost in the crowd,
Nothing to show for my effort,
But bruised, bleeding pride.



Ah…but someone wise had once
Whispered to me with love,
"I’d rather with danger prance,
Roughshod ridden, punched and shoved, 
Than with cowardice partnered in a dance,
Still with nothing much glorious to prove."



So, with those words of thought,
I bit my lips in a monologue,
“What if I fall... but what if I fly?" 
“I want to live...but what if I die?”
Will I take the chance? 
Or wonder for decades hence?



“My love, would you merely wait to exist,
in the life of no risks and 'what if?'
Or  would you prefer to thrive, to live,
With "oh well, next hurdle please,"


Thus, courage becomes my reprieve
Be gone, oh, the fear of 'what if'
Give me a lifetime of ‘oh well’
Because the chance of heaven after hell
Lies in facing the question of 'why not'
Because at last, all shall die and rot
The life of this world easily beguiled
One day as you say goodbye, do it in style.

-Afiza Azmee-

And so it went that I paid RM3000 examination fees to Royal College of Psychiatrist a few weeks ago.

After all that musings, angst, self-doubts and poems…I thought to myself, I have to take this step. Part with my money and risk failure. *sobs sobs*

If you know anything about my personality type, INTP, you would know that we hate failure. And that’s why we obsess about stuff. It’s not healthy. Nowadays I have controlled that tendency to a manageable level. That’s the perks of being a Psych MO; we manage our own anxieties and fears ourselves and pray it doesn’t seem obvious to others. Hahah.

Rudyard Kipling had once written the beautifully insightful poem entitled ‘If’. It has become a coming-of-age poem that every school student memorises at one time or another. I love that poem to bits. It is a poem about having a sturdy moral compass; how to conduct oneself in life. So when I wanted to write about my fear of failure, I naturally chose the theme of similar colour. Adding ‘What’ to the ‘If’.

I wrote this poem ‘What If’ because this is my weakness. ‘What If’ is my automatic negative thoughts in any new life direction that I contemplate taking. What If is always in my mind. I would never take the next step if I cannot  make sure that I have a pretty good chance of an excellent ‘What If’ in store for me.

You see, the thing is, I am very satisfied with my life. I see no reason to change things the way they are. I love my work, I love going back to my house relaxing, reading fiction, writing poems/stories, playing with cats. I mean, why would I want to change things the way they are? Why should I purposefully make my life difficult? I don’t have to be a specialist to be happy. I am just as happy now. Hahah. In fact, there is a high chance that the process of becoming a specialist (the wasted money if I fail, the rigorous studying, the withholding of pleasurable activities for exams) would burn me out and make me less happy. Right?

But sometimes, you can’t be more than you potentially should by remaining satisfied. That’s  the self-actualisation part of Abraham’s Maslow motivational theory. (Damn, the theory is accurate! When I was a HO, I thought I would be satisfied just being an MO…I mean, I don’t have expensive needs. My salary is more than enough for a modest lifestyle and an occasional luxury. I really don’t need a lot to be happy, you know. But Maslow had anticipated that people would never be satisfied for long. At the top of the hierarchy of needs is the concept of self-actualisation…the need to be the best of what you potentially can be. How to self-actualise if you cannot do what you want as a doctor because you have to follow what your specialist says regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with him/her? When that happens too many times,  you will feel like “damn it, I wanna be a specialist and then I can make my own decisions.” Self-actualisation is empowering, and that’s why it’s in the top hierarchy of needs!)  

So, I have no choice. I have to take this exam…take this first step to becoming a specialist. Even if I am risking hard-earned money and battered pride in the process. (Failure is quite a high possibility. Not many of my acquaintances had passed this exam, previously. And they are quite smart,  themselves. I am really quite apprehensive about this. Which is why I wrote this poem. For a psychiatry MO, I am really not that good at talking about my own feelings unless I disguise it in a literary piece of poems or short stories. I am like Taylor Swift, in that sense. Hahha)

While writing the above poem, I talked to myself like a psychotic patient in the midst of a severe hallucination: “Let’s live the life of ‘oh well, I tried’… than the life of ‘what if'”

P/S: Still, my heart aches a bit when I see the balance in my bank account.  Oh, well. 

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