This Is Why You Do Stupid Things

I went through an interview process to get into Physical Therapy. My very first interview at 18 years old. Only 50 people were accepted per year into this program at the University of Manitoba and I had no backup plan for the year if I was not accepted. This was it…and man, this was a BIG stress. I was dressed to kill but desperately struggled to maintain the composure on the inside that I was displaying on the outside! I strode into the room (surprised that I didn’t fall), gracefully sat in the chair (thankful that I no longer had to rely on my legs) and tried to listen to the questions. At times I was so nervous that I wasn’t sure they were speaking English. I answered their questions stumbling over almost all my words with sentences that ended in “and…”. Finally, when the interrogation was over, I felt completely drained. I must have looked awful; a stranger even asked if I was feeling all right. A few months later, I was overly surprised to receive my acceptance letter. It must have been what I was wearing!

Stress can make smart people do stupid things.

Stress inhibits a part of the brain that synchronizes brain activity so you have difficulty functioning at your best when you are in a state of stress. Brain researchers call this “cortical inhibition”. When you are in a coherent state - where the brain, heart and nervous system are working in harmony - even in a stressful situation, we are cognitively sharp, emotionally calm and we feel and think with enhanced clarity.

I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have had our on-the-go tools at my disposal to help me maintain my inner composure and to give intelligible, coherent answers that had some depth and actually ended in a period. 


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