I have always considered myself to be a health-conscious person. I try to eat well, exercise and stay as happy and positive as I can. College, however, has made me realize that my relationship with health is more of convenience that anything else. I eat whole- some, nourishing foods and try to take out an hour to work out during my day to day routine when there is not much happening. As soon as a time consuming task catches my attention, health becomes the first thing that takes a backseat.
A major example of this is during finals week. This past semester, I had 5 finals, 3 of which were back to back cumulative science classes. The only thing I cared about was doing well on my exams. So I stayed cooped up in my room all day surrounded by a copious amount of papers, charts, and books, I refused to get even a bit of fresh air, and decided that any and every health related activity could wait till my finals were over. The exams came closer and I didn’t feel prepared so panic started to creep in. In response to that anxiety, I ran to order pizza and ignored the big bowl of fruit on top of the fridge. In the back of my head, I always knew that junk food would not make me feel any better. But now looking back, I realize that I was too worried, anxious, and tired to reason with myself. So I pushed those thoughts away and hoped that pizza doused in oil and cheese would provide some emotional stability.
That pizza provided some momentary relief but that relief went out of the window when I realized that I had an exam the next morning and I hadn’t finished studying. I had to pull an all-nighter. Now I am sure every college student has heard and read about how important it is to get a good night’s sleep the day before the final. Most of us, though, tend to take that advice with a grain of salt. I, especially, start to think that I am invincible and sleep is a thing for the weak. So I stayed up all night and then went to take a 3 hour exam.
Due to lack of sleep and the stress that I was under, I started to lose focus during my exam. I filled in the things that I knew and after a while, stopped attempting to work out the things I didn’t know. As I walked back to my dorm room after my exam, the irony of my situation made me laugh. I had completely given up on my health for my exams and during my exam itself, my body decided to punish me for neglecting my health. And it did not stop there. I tried to make amends with my body but the effects of my stress, the junk food, and the sleepless nights kept going for a while. They only stopped when my finals finished and I went back to making health a priority.
This has happened to not just me but many of my friends as well. That’s the thing about being in college and being a premed. There is just so much happening that our bodies and our health usually end up being the least important in relation to the other things that need to be done. We like to think that we are too young to have any issues and our health will take care of itself. And for the most part, our body does have a way of restoring itself without our awareness. The problem starts when we keep going and the toxicity is accumulated to an extent that the body finds it hard to restore itself without leaving effects. This whole incident taught me that no one can ever have a relationship of convenience with health. Our bodies are something we tend to take for granted so we can focus on “greater” aspects of life such as relationships, career, family, etc. But we forget that if we don’t have our health, all these other aspects of life also get diminished.
I have also learned one more thing from this incident. Premeds want to be doctors. So our main goal in life is to make health a priority for other people. But if we don’t do that ourselves, how can we truly explain the importance of this to others? All of our education is not worth much if we don’t start to practice what we preach. Because even if one day, we are caring for complete strangers, if our health is not great, our talents would not be utilized to the fullest potential and our difference in someone’s life would be a lot less that what it could have been.