Let me first by stating that I am by no means an expert on anything, not even my own life BUT I do listen to the world around me, learn from my mistakes and triumphs and strive to share the small wisdoms that I have acquired throughout my short life. Some of these may seem obvious but they are often overlooked and easily underestimated. I understand that everyone has different experiences and must go through it themselves but perhaps, this will be beneficial to someone in knowing that they are not alone.
This is what I wish I knew before I started medical school.
It is hard! This might seem like a no brainer, exercise, eat well, have a creative outlet, spend time with friends, sleep; what is so hard about that right? Well it turns out a lot of those get put on the back burner when you are in class the same amount of time as a full-time job and have to study additional hours per day to stay on task. Getting fast food, skipping the work out and not taking time to decompress are easily justified when the only goal is to pass the next exam. While it is not impossible to make time for these things it is hard to prioritize them. So my advice would be to set a schedule and stick to it, take time each day whether ten minutes or an hour, whatever you need that day to get through. Don’t feel guilty!
Time is short-
Take every day as it comes and try to stay focused on the present without dwelling on the upcoming events. We all know that time goes by so fast when you are having fun. What you may not know is that medical school and likely all other professional schools are so fast paced that you live life from test to test and forget about the time in between. While this works well for its purpose it tends to result in missing important milestones in life, loved one’s birthdays and holidays. Recently I have had some time of reflection and it feels like I have blinked and skipped three months but also feels like I have been in a time suspension. Living each day for the sole purpose to stay afloat, surrounded by massive amounts of material to learn. The time goes by so fast and not in a normal kind of way.
It is real, people are not always truthful, and the real competition is with yourself. While it takes a lot of type A personality and competitive nature to get into medical school it also does not end, after all you have to compete for a class rank, residency, to feel good about yourself right? My answer is to not compare yourself to others in your class. We all have unique approaches and we all deserve to be there, what truly matters is that you do your best and improve against yourself.
It is Hard-
Medical school, any professional school really, it is going to be hard. Like really hard. They tell you that it will be hard and you know that it is no walk in the park, getting there was not easy but the amount of information that you need to absorb in the amount of time they give you is intense. You will feel incompetent, have self-doubt, have highs, and then come to realize that you can do it. You get better and what once felt hard becomes normal! So keep learning and striving for better and don’t underestimate the task!
If a relationship is not already established, it will be nearly impossible to start a new one. By impossible I mean it won’t happen or is unlikely to considering you will have very little time to dedicate to other people, especially a new person. Even in a relationship it can be extremely hard to manage unless they too are in the same position. This can be hard if you happen to be at a point in your life where you want to date, make connections and have someone to share time with.
The things I wish I knew don’t change my desire to go down this path, but I would have rather known this, so I could better prepare myself, to live each day appreciating the moments, not gain ten stress pounds by realizing I need more time to self-care and balance my schedule better to accommodate the information.
Given this, one could argue that you don’t know the wisdom until the close of the first semester because it is a rite of passage. A little taste of the sacrifices that will come and the joys that will be that much more pleasurable given the hard times that they arise from. What I know now is that I am grateful for this experience, to be given the opportunity to learn how to heal and connect with others, and to share my experiences with others.
Here is to looking forward towards the future but living each day with purpose and finding a balance that works for ourselves and making a positive impact.