How To Handle Discouragement

While studying for our second set of exams this semester, I was chatting with my study group and we got onto the topic of constantly feeling unmotivated and discouraged on this journey to becoming physicians. A lot of times while I’m studying/stressed out, I think about quitting and not wanting to do medicine anymore. There are a lot of times when I feel like I took more interest in medicine before I came to school for it – and now it seems like a chore. I can spend hours studying, and at the end of my session, feel like I didn’t retain a single thing. These feelings can become very overwhelming at times. It’s hard for me to always remember why I’m doing this.

I always vent to my mom and my friends when I’m having ‘one of those days’ where I want to quit and go home. I’m so serious about it too – I tell my mom how I want to come home and choose another career path. I feel like I’m ready to pack up and hop on the next plane home. I often feel discouraged and tired. While talking to my friends, we realize that we have nothing else for us – no plan B, no other passion in life as big as medicine. We don’t know what we would actually do if we dropped out of school and came home – that thought alone gets me back into reality and reminds me that I must finish what I started.

The field of medicine is not for everybody. It takes a tough, dedicated, self-disciplined person to do what we do on a daily basis. I met a lot of students my first semester who were in it ‘for a fun time’, ‘for the money’, ‘to live abroad for a few months’ – those are the ones who dropped out after first/second semester and couldn’t handle the stress. You must KNOW that you want it, must be passionate about it, and must be willing to work hard to get it.

Usually for me, a good night’s sleep will get rid of that mindset: calling it an early night and watching my favorite shows on Netflix until I fall asleep, taking some time for myself and putting down the books for awhile. It’s also important to surround yourself with fellow classmates and friends who know what you’re going through. It makes it easier to talk about your struggles and fears with someone who’s alongside you in the journey. My friend said that whenever she feels unmotivated, she thinks about doing health fairs and how the people look up to her. They make her feel like everything she’s learning is worth it. It’s hard to feel ‘worth it’ when you spend 10+ hours a day studying in a classroom, with no patient interaction or utilization of the knowledge we work so hard to learn. I think about all the people that I will get to help someday with all the knowledge I am learning right now, and that reminds me that someday, it will be worth it.

I read a quote shared on Twitter by a fellow classmate that said ‘if you get tired, learn to rest – not to quit’. As a medical student, I am CONSTANTLY tired. Emotionally and physically. This quote is great because it reminds me that giving up is not an option. Mental breaks are necessary. Being reminded of what my real passion is, and why I’m here. The next time you’re feeling discouraged or unmotivated, take a break and take some time for yourself. Learn the important balance between your studies and your well-being. Remember why you’re doing this, and remember that your hard work will pay off someday!

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