“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

As premed students, we are typically asked why we want to pursue a career in medicine. The truly passionate medical student’s answer to this question will be equivalent in length to that of writing a novel. While some students may refer to past events that triggered hardship, like a loved one’s death, others may cite a dynasty of physicians in their familial descent and are utilizing their platform to follow their parents’ footsteps. Whatever the case may be, every premed student has a unique case. Although ‘grand-scheme’ type of motivations, like the ones listed above, are vital to the passion behind every premed student, I want to offer some advice on the idea of surrounding yourself with the little things in life; the small things to be grateful for. While I explain, put aside any stress that consumes you. Take a deep breath, let’s talk.

I want to begin by stating the obvious:

 In your four years of college, you’ll be tested mentally and physically more than you have in your entire life. In these times, you’ll look out of the window at your favorite study spot and make yourself believe that the world is just black and white. That’s understandable because it’s the natural thing to do when you’re stressed beyond belief. You find yourself down playing the beauty of what you have around you as if the earth is really just black and white. However, I’m here to inform you about why your world is, in fact, not just black and white.

Be grateful for what you have. I advise you to not just read over the last sentence, but to think about what being grateful means and apply it to your life. For me, being grateful means to appreciate the little things around you. It’s a simple, but powerful concept.

I look at my 2-year-old nephew and see him bouncing lightly as he walks against the endless pavement in a world he one day will walk on. I look at my mother, my single mother who has supported me ever so passionately, has held my hand through the introduction to life in my toddler stages, and blessed me with her light in life’s darkest moments. I look at my sister, the same person who devoted her time to babysitting me, and now see a mother cradling her child with hands that glisten from the ring that was put on her left hand by a loving husband and father. I look at my successful brother in law, the man who married my sister in hopes of making her feel like the luckiest woman alive, and realize how happy they are when they talk about their children. Smiling, I sit and think about these things in my life every day, knowing that my family is happy and healthy. I listen to John Mayer at a Starbucks downtown just past 6 pm when the night and day fight each other for limelight and remind myself that life is beautiful because of moments like these.

When things get crazy and start to pile on me, I practice my belief in gratitude because it gives me a feeling of safety, almost as if things will work out because life works beautifully that way. It gives me a process to believe in, especially when the premed process itself seems overwhelming. Just like I find my things to be grateful for, you can too. Once you do, you’ll notice the amazing feeling you get when you realize you’re independently taking life on with your own powers, goals, and visions. The most humbling feeling behind all of this is when you sit down and imagine your family, the people you love dearly, working endlessly to set you up for success and happiness. Don’t ever underestimate the power of family on your way of thinking, and remember that you are the product of your humble beginnings. Once you dig deep and locate them, you’ll see the world for what it really has to offer: endless opportunity, amazing people, beautiful scenery, and happiness.

You must remind yourself that you are in an amazing position. You are getting educated, meeting new people that will shape your life, watching your family grow, watching yourself mature, and most importantly, getting wiser through life’s trials and tribulations. If you take care of your family, study hard, and remember to take care of yourself, the universe will make sure you reach your goal of becoming a physician.