It’s Friday night, you hear several footsteps making their way down the stairs, laughter, and a group of well-dressed undergraduates making their way to a party. You look at yourself and realize that you and your friend are sitting in a study lounge, drawing mechanism after mechanism in preparation for that organic chemistry midterm you have on Monday. The thought “maybe I should take a break?” gets quickly shut down by the amount of information you need to have mastered by the test. But that’s not the only thing you have to do. Your mind races with “I need to finish that homework assignment for physics too” and “oh shoot, when is that club meeting again?” or even “I’m volunteering at the VA tomorrow morning and then I have a shift at the hospital followed by a meeting and then I also need to reply to the president of the club about the event we’re hosting”…and the thoughts go on and on and on. It feels never-ending doesn’t it?
That was me for the first year and a half of college. Always worrying, always thinking about everything I have to finish. I could never find time to keep up with my hobbies, and frankly, that led to burnout, depression, and sometimes the tears felt like they would never stop falling. It was stressful and really put me in a slump when actually, the premed journey shouldn’t be this way.
I know you probably feel guilty if you said yes to going out with your friends instead of writing that 20 page lab report for class. But imagine this, ten years later, when you look back to see how much adventure you’ve had in your life, it’s very likely that you gave up most of your social life and didn’t make time for some fun.
The journey to becoming a doctor is not supposed to take away from the journey of living life.
If you are an undergraduate student, or even in high school, it’s not too late to change this type of lifestyle! That drive to get into medical school will only increase if you also integrate some fun into life. Go explore that museum outside of college, grab dinner with friends, watch some Netflix. In my case, I ventured out with my friends to find new places to eat, and I think I might pick up something completely out of the blue, like archery. You can start small. Maybe talk to your best friend over the phone for a half an hour and that could be your break. Then, ask a friend if they want to grab a bite and catch up for an hour or so. This can lead up to you eventually taking a night off and going out to watch a movie. Don’t get me wrong though, this doesn’t mean you become irresponsible and don’t do the work necessary to perform well. Just remember that fun and your commitments as a premed are not mutually exclusive. Yes, it takes some time to figure out how to time manage, but catch yourself before you enter the grind that is the premed life, and make it better for yourself.
Trust me, it’s for your own sanity.