One Question and One Answer
My professional future as a psychologist hung on my answer to a question, and I froze.
I was sitting at a table in front of six examiners. For over an hour they had been asking me questions to determine if they would grant me a license to practice psychology in the state of California.
My nerves were wracked. They evaluated every word and every gesture I made. Talk about being in the hot seat!
I had studied enough, yet I wondered if I could pass all the questions they posed. Each one like a mile-high hurdle I had to jump over.
The examiners were the gatekeepers who stood at the entrance to the career I had prepared for most of my life.
You could say all of my life because from very early on I had been a caretaker for my mother who suffered from depression. Her illness surfaced when I was four and she disappeared into a hospital.
This was my early training in learning about emotional/mental illness.
Being the big sister in my family, I felt the pull to protect and keep my younger sister safe. This was more early training on my way to being a compassionate psychologist.
More about my life story another time. For now, back to that exam.
Finding the Courage
The scariest part for me happened like this.
One of the examiners asked me a point-blank question about the validity of an assessment tool, the MMPI, which measures the degree someone might be suffering from a mental condition.
Here’s the question:
“Is it a valid test or not?”
I did not know the answer!
I lost my breath, my mind shut down, and time stopped. I was suspended in fright about to disconnect from my body and float away.
If I said “yes” it’s a valid test, it would be the wrong answer. If I said “no” it’s not a valid test it would be the wrong answer.
It’s well-known that the state licensing examiners are cold and not fuzzy warm. They don’t budge out of their rigid roles. To me, they were stone-faced bodies perched on their cold hard thrones.
The courageous moment came when I could no longer hold off giving an answer. I was in the center of the spotlight. The heat was on, and I was sweating.
I then found the courage to speak what was actually true for me in the moment.
I said, “I don’t know.”
How scary was that!? But to utter the truth was my only option.
In that moment I surrendered. My world could have collapsed and it would have been OK because I felt the power of being courageous.
If it meant I failed the exam, I could walk away accepting I had been in my truth.
Strength to Be Yourself
Then, a miracle happened. One of the stone faces spoke and told me where else I could look on the assessment and I might find the answer there.
Yes! there it was, the answer was obvious. It was a valid test.
Many people go into interviews, meetings, and presentations that have high stakes.
Of course, preparation is crucial, but you can never anticipate the curveballs that might come your way.
The strength to be true to yourself and what you do know and what you don’t know is important. That’s why learning how to be present and connected in any moment is necessary if you want to be truly confident.
I like to think that the examiner felt my willingness to say I don’t know and not pretend. He responded by giving me a hint.
So, moving through fright takes courage.
Can you dare to be courageous when you are scared but need to speak?
Remember, your inner voice is your most powerful resource.
My passion is to help you discover this resource.
If you want to learn how to tap into your voice at will, and speak without fear, I invite you to join me in my online courses. Click Here to learn more.