"You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman's blues"
Ok, so technically I'm a working woman rather than a working man, but I like to think that "man" can be considered to mean "man or woman" in those lyrics.
Working is tough, really tough. I didn't go into medicine completely blind. I've worked at least part time pretty much constantly since I turned 16. I've done my fair share of menial jobs and I'm not unaccustomed to 13 hour shifts or 80+ hour weeks. I suppose, then, I was naive when I thought that that would have prepared me somewhat for the life of a junior doctor.
I was raised with a pretty strong work ethic. My parents drilled the "if you want nice things you need to work hard for them" mantra into me from the moment I was old enough to know what it meant, or possibly before. I distinctly remember my Dad being off sick from work when I was about 4. He hasn't had a sick day since; if he can get out of bed, he goes to work. Even in my £3 an hour job when I was 16, I was aware that I was being paid to do something and therefore I ought to do it properly.
All of this has contributed to my utter shock that some days I really struggle to cope with working. It isn't the job - that's pretty straightforward although it can be busy. It isn't really the people - my seniors are generally very supportive. It's me. I cannot escape the feeling that I make an absolutely terrible doctor. I accept that all juniors feel pretty rotten about their ability at some time or other, but this is totally consuming my mind. I can't escape the feeling that I'm utterly useless. The slightest criticism leaves me close to tears and I'm deaf to any praise or compliments I receive. Even if I'm not terrible right now, it's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy that if I believe I'm awful, I'll slip into despondency, stop trying and really be dreadful.
I'd better start working harder. Not at my job. But at my self esteem. And I'm that only one who can do that.