What Medical School Taught Me Part One

There are just a lot of things medical school taught me so I decided to break it down into parts citing in the lesson I have learned, making this my own “13 reasons why you should not give up on it.”

First lesson- SELF WORTH. They say every achievement in life begins with knowing your worth, knowing your value and appreciating it that it may overflow to others too. My personal self-worth was one of the valuable things medical school taught me, of course having to heal patients is another story, but for now I’d like to zero in on my own lessons on it.

I was a determined little one before, several decades back all I wanted was to be a doctor, it was an all or none type of mindset, but this mindset led me to another reality that there are just some things in this world that you have to fight for against all odds to the point that it hits the core of your self-worth, the perennial question of “Am I worthy?” seems to be a consistent challenge in the journey.

I can say that I was an average student during my elementary and high school days and just got the right score for me to pass my college entrance exams. I didn’t get accepted on two of my applied pre-med courses, but got wait-listed on one and so I reached out for help to genuinely concerned elders then to help me get in, same goes with medical school. It wasn’t easy. Having to struggle through the subjects on my first, second, third year and clerkship (which will be another entry, by the way) was beyond words, I even had to take remedial classes in Biochemistry then, it even came to a point where I asked myself if medicine was really for me (remember the perennial question earlier?). But my heart overpowered this mind of mine and so I pursued it.

The struggle you're into today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.

The struggle you’re into today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.

The thought of fighting for what you really want and sustaining your passion to make it happen can be compared to a seed that was then planted in my mind which every time and again I would water just to make sure it would grow, but that’s not even without having to mention the difficulties and the hurdles I had to cross. Sometimes I would just stare into blank space on the book in front of me and ask myself “Do I really need to learn all these technical terms?” It’s like drowning with no anchor to hold on just that dream to have those two priceless letters after your surname which is M.D. There even came a time when I underwent a cycle of questioning my self-worth, but I chose to focus on why I was there in the first place and look at the lessons rather than dwell into feelings of self-worthlessness, so here are my take away points –

Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.

It all boils down to giving value to what you need. Positivity for me is a magnet of good things to come, optimism on the other hand isn’t always about being happy all the time but it’s the ability to take in what the world has to give you and saying “I’m not going to let this get me down.” Surrounding yourself with people who support your life goals is equally important in staying sane in this world, and yes they really do bring out the best in you.

Practice kindness and helping others.

What was immensely powerful and what helped me see my self-worth was the fact that I was able to help others. It need not be of a grand type but it really is all about the simple things that matter – giving a compliment, calling home in the middle of school, helping an elderly man or woman who had fallen get back up, extending support and lending an ear not to react but to understand can go a long, long way. Don’t allow the toxicity of the world drown the voice of love and care from within you.

Be a friend to yourself.

As much as possible avoid unkind things you say to yourself, at times it’s totally normal and forms part of the process but when this happens observe the thoughts that run through your mind and never fall into the trap of judging yourself for having them. Trust the process as they say.

If this may seem difficult for you, it may be because you don’t think you deserve this level of kindness but let me tell you that you do, we all do. Learn to focus on one thing you appreciate in yourself each day and affirm yourself too. Know that your thoughts manifests itself in a way that is powerful enough to make things happen for you.

Be grateful to you.

In today’s complicated world, we’re so used to viewing at things from the external then in. Looks may fade but our soul never does. If there’s anyone who needs a pat on the back, that’s you.

The focus of your gratitude should be inward. You begin to appreciate the qualities that make you unique and as a result you get to shine some light on them and feel good about yourself, this appreciation of who you are optimistically changes your self-worth in a positive way.

Accept the fact that everyone has their own struggles.

Knowing is different from internalizing. When I made a conscious effort of internalizing people who appreciated me, lifted me up, and those who made me feel safe, I started to open up and seek support from people whom I felt understood me and my struggles. I became open to the fact that I wasn’t alone in my challenges and that there are people who also struggle with the same issues. There’s so much power I saw in this and I hope you see it too.

As I end part one, know that you are worthy of every endeavor you take, be it medical school or something else, all you’ve got to do is realize and accept this and always move forward. The path may be difficult but the learnings are priceless and much worthy of who you are.

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