The Life of an MW Student –  Thirteen

Those of you who have been paying attention will remember that a few months ago I wrote about the importance of creating a sustainable study plan. I was full of good intentions. I would spend a manageable amount of time in front of the books. I would go to the gym. Spend time with my husband. Flourish at work. Well, dear reader, I did not. In fact, I did quite the opposite, and unsurprisingly burnt out.

Why is it so difficult to take a break? With such an intense study programme, it often feels like you must spend every minute of every day with your nose in a book (or in my case, in a glass). I have discovered that taking a break takes strength. Who knew?

During the past eighteen months, it has often struck me that the most difficult thing about passing the MW exam isn’t actually learning all the material. Nor is it being able to taste accurately. The most difficult thing – for me at least – is overcoming all the mental hurdles I find myself facing.

Self-doubt is a perennial problem. It can be overwhelming. However, in small doses it can also be a strength. The MW requires nuanced thought, to consider all possible sides of an argument. This is difficult to do when you’re convinced that you’re right about everything.

This brings me nicely on to my next point. Feeling you must get everything right – or, more importantly, being afraid of getting things wrong. The fear of making mistakes can make it extremely difficult to even start something. Or, in other words, this year I found out that it was possible to be afraid of a glass of wine.

In time, though, these fears lessen. Letting go of the need to be right has been the most beneficial thing I could do for my studies, bar none. During my first year, I burst into tears at bad exam feedback more often than I’d like to admit. Now, my skin is thick enough and my confidence sufficient to know that every mistake made is a lesson learned.

Small, incremental improvements, then. I seriously doubt that I have had my last confidence crisis, but at least they’re becoming less frequent. Now, with seven months to go until the exams, it is time to keep calm and carry on – but take a break when I need one.