As innate creatures of habit, human beings are hardwired to despise uncertainty. Whether transitioning to the next career stage, entering a new personal chapter, or coping with a global pandemic that alters every aspect of daily life, facing change is a tough task for us all. Interestingly, studies have shown that humans experience more stress when thinking about a potential negative outcome than when actually experiencing that outcome.1 It’s not necessarily a bad consequence that unravels us but the mere thought of it occurring.
For this issue of MillennialEYE, we invited young ophthalmologists and those in training to anonymously submit questions about any uncertainties they may be facing. Through their queries, respondents expressed concerns about standing out in training, handling professional rejection, overcoming surgical complications, and facing new hardships presented by the pandemic. In turn, experienced ophthalmologists responded with insights and advice.
Unfortunately, there is no handbook for navigating such uncertainties, and they do not disappear fully over time. Although experience is an excellent teacher, as humans, we are all susceptible to feelings of doubt, worry, and insecurity. I hope young readers recognize that the wisdom of the mentors who responded to the questions has been shaped by their own experiences navigating similar obstacles. We may not be able to predict the future, but we can perhaps gain some sense of comfort in knowing that such uncertainty is part of the human experience.
1. de Berker AO, Rutledge RB, Mathys C, et al. Computations of uncertainty mediate acute stress response in humans. Nat Commun. 2016;7:10996.