I began my QSEP Stage 2 in March 2019 and aim to finish in early 2021 and while I have gained a lot of experience (particularly evident reading back over early first year reflections) I still find it extremely difficult not to compare my own success to the levels others have achieved. When I reviewed my first portfolio and the completed work piled up in one Zip file, I saw how much time and effort had gone into it. I won’t list out my achievements for two reasons, firstly, because I think deep down I still find it difficult to accept them as successes, even writing the word ‘achievement’ makes me feel uncomfortable, and secondly, because I do not want others to see them as something to compare themselves to either.
It was during my Key Role 3 research, which involves an investigation into COVID-19 and the impact it has had on psychological support provided and received by Sport and Exercise Psychologists and elite athletes, I was privileged enough to have frank and honest discussions with many practitioners who had much more experience than myself. It was during these conversations I noticed that self-doubt was still, at times, an element that needed to be addressed and managed. I gained two things from these conversations; comfort and hope. Comfort knowing that regardless of experience, questioning one’s ability was a natural challenge that arose, and it was not a direct reflection of my abilities when I was doubtful. The second more important emotion I felt was hope; a hope that even though practitioners may feel insecure of their value and what purpose they serve it is still possible to have a successful career.
Upon reflection I realise of course a certain amount of doubt is normal however when I began to notice it impeding my progression, I knew then was the time to make a conscious effort to focus on my own accomplishments and upcoming goals. This overwhelming self-doubt occurred in month 8 of Year 1 when I began to feel paralysed as I assessed what task or Key Role to tackle next. I found I was faced with so many options I could not choose anything without highlighting the expertise I lacked to effectively execute the work required. I looked around at fellow Trainees and all the contacts they were making and work they were acquiring and felt inferior in just about every area of QSEP.
10 months on from that time there have definitely been some changes in how I review my work. Firstly, setting a timer on social media on my phone of a half hour each day has helped tremendously. Social media was the source of information I saw other’s achievements and promotions which I was affected most by. I took control of how much exposure I had to others. It may seem small and counterproductive when trying to self-promote but now I have an allotted time and with it being so short I am prevented from dwelling so much on others. Secondly, I broke down my Key Roles into sections each month. For example, writing one good quality reflection for each section each month ensured I gradually created my next submission. I also set writing targets for the case study meaning I could review them at a later stage through more experienced eyes. Thirdly, I re-assessed whether this was something I truly wanted to do, putting aside the financial commitment, did I actually want to do this knowing the challenges associated? I did; however, this was not a light decision and was now made without the naivety I began QSEP with.
This is not an article of strategic advice but rather a very honest account that sometimes needs to be read by others to highlight the variety and range of insecurities felt by the majority at some point in their career regardless of wealth or scope of experience. We will each experience training routes differently, and it is paramount we only compare to where we started, rather than another’s perceived successes.