Chronicles of a Med Student: Embracing Change

There’s no doubt that medical school has changed me thus far. I still have a way to go, but I already see changes in myself that I probably wouldn’t have expected when I first donned my white coat. Change is inevitable. I would love to sit and eat mac and cheese followed by a giant slice of cake for every meal, but I obviously can’t do that anymore. I’ve mentioned changing my eating habits before—I absolutely have to eat salads and greens every day, if not for every meal in order to keep myself feeling healthy and sane. There have been many changes in my diet I’ve embraced over the past years but most changes in my lifestyle obviously extend past food.
My classmates, for the most part, fit into the Type A mold that is basically an implicit prerequisite for getting to medical school (not to say there are those that don’t fall into this category but they are few and far between). Everyone is focused on doing the best they can (as they should in medical school), but we also push the limits, and it soon becomes a game of “how can I use every single resource possible in the shortest amount of time?” At the beginning of my first year, I used to think that what everyone else was doing was exactly what I had to do. It took me longer than it should have to realize that that isn’t true at all! I needed to trust myself a little more and try to focus on just doing what works for me. Getting caught up in what Person X was taking notes on and why Person Y was making a ten-page note sheet on a 20-minute lecture doesn’t do anything for anyone—in fact it drove me crazy! I really had to change my thinking and focus a little more on myself and a little less on others. Here’s some good general life advice: do your own thing!
Not worrying about what others do actually has had a much more profound impact than just in my study life. It’s actually helpful in how I live my day to day life as well. As I’ve progressed through my first three semesters of school, I’ve found that my list of what is most important to me has changed a bit. Medical school is the busiest I’ve ever been, which leaves me with little energy to care about what other people think (or how they are studying). I’ve always felt pressured to present myself a certain way and feel a little embarrassed if I slip up in the least, which leads me to replaying the scenario in my head fifty times. Nowadays if I ever find myself feeling like this, I do my best to not play the game of “what could have gone differently?” and instead just focus on the task in front of me. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten a lot better at this by simply not paying attention to it. I no longer feel the pressure to be “on” all the time. People can choose to think of me as they please—as long as I know I’m not a bad person and I treat people well, that’s all that counts. I’m more comfortable in my own skin, and what a liberating feeling that is. This is admittedly a major change in the way I think but it’s most definitely for the better. As I mentioned before, change is inevitable, especially in medical school but it doesn’t always have to be a scary thing. It can lead you in a more positive direction and teach you to embrace yourself!

Adelle is a 4th year medical student who loves to hike, bake chocolate chip cookies, and doodle on the corners of papers.