Last term, I was rubbish at writing essays because my supervisor said I have horrible grammar, which is equally important in a scientific essay, although no one cares. 'I won't let you graduate if you don't fix your language soon,' she said. So she sent me to one-on-one academic writing skills supervisions.
In Lent term, I found out I was rubbish at writing report, mainly because I can't construct logical, interesting arguments through my written work. Even the principle investigator in my lab said I was totally rubbish at that. I was at the brink of tearing up when he criticized just how lousy it was and he could not believe I got the result I got for the past 2 years. So he sent a very encouraging and motivating post-doc to point out all the possible ways to make it a perfect report, then sent me off to do all the corrections. 'I want you to have the perfect score,' he said. And I completed it.
Another instance was when I was trying to complete a report on 'Preparing for patients' course we have here in cambs medicine. I was so worried about the quality of my report (to some degree of paranoia) I sent it off several peers to review it and bug them to give me feedback as soon as possible (Ok, we always do that here, reading each others' report just before submitting but typically, people just send to 1 friend for proofreading). When one of my very brilliant friends gave me the feedback, 'I am a bit worried about your report. When are you free? We need to talk about it,' I freaked out. So we set a time and discussed, in a very light-heartening manner, on how to improve it. And it was a 'masterpiece' (according to him, anyway).
2 terms have passed for my third year in Cambridge. It was a very different year from the past 2 partly because of the non-medically related materials in my course. Also because learning this year's course well requires a very different learning attitude. I have never received so many direct criticisms in such a short period of time in my life. I used to take them very badly, like seriously badly. But this year, I have learned to take them as priceless learning opportunities. I do not know what changed, but when I looked into the eyes of people who criticized me here, I knew they were not just making fun of my flaws but sincerely wanted to make me a better doctor, scientist, writer, person. I am, therefore, truly grateful for these people who were brave enough to tell me what's wrong in a constructive way and set out to help me improve.
There are bound to be many more, harsher criticisms when clinical school starts next year! More learning opportunities!