Classes to attend, research to do, club meetings to handle, and organic chemistry to cry over; the to-do list never seems to end for premed students. And of course, in the midst of trying to complete all the tasks, there is the constant need for perfection. This need usually stems from an underlying fear of failure.  One negative situation arises and fear takes over the hearts, minds, and souls of premed students. Suddenly their thoughts range from, “I failed an exam! My GPA will go down!!” to “I still don’t have any research positions!”, “I only have 5 clubs!” to the absurd, “I cut my hair. What if medical schools don’t accept me because I don’t look cute enough in a white lab coat anymore?” We fear, we worry, and we become insecure over everything without once reflecting upon ourselves.

Where does this fear of failure come from and why does it haunt every premed student like a curse? This fear of failure, to state in basic terms, comes from an overwhelming desire to succeed. From an evolutionary perspective, our only goal in life is to reproduce. However, in order to pass on our genes, we first need to survive.  We survive by striving to be “better than the rest.” Our issue is that if we fail and don’t get into medical school, society is going to look down upon us. Our dreams will be crushed and our futures will look bleak with no more demanding drive insisting that we must be at the top of every aspect of ourselves. The only problem, with all this however, is that when we choose to indulge in a fear of failure, we act upon our animalistic instincts and forget our humanity. We forget that while we might need to survive, we also want to live.Trust me, when I say, I know failure.  I have lost track of how many times I have failed in these past years. I know the frustrations, the anxieties, the sleepless nights, and the insecurities that come with failure.  So what have I done every time I have failed? I have cried, eaten chocolate, watched re-runs of Friends and learned to get back up. We deal with our fear of failure by remembering our reasons and motivations for wanting to be a doctor in the first place.  I have a firm belief that every single premed student has an individual reason for wanting to be a doctor; one that goes beyond the generic, “I want to help people.”  When we remember our reasons for doing what we do, we find our shield. We start doing everything only for the love and the belief in the path we have chosen for ourselves and by doing that we free ourselves from the attachment that success and failure bring. When freed from these bindings, we realize that we will only truly fail if we let these external factors control our dreams. And when we come to that conclusion, failure becomes just a word.

About the Author: Kesha is an undergraduate student at Rutgers University. She loves to spend time with kids and one day intends to work with newborn babies.