What to Do with Doubt

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  • October 12, 2020

What to Do with Doubt

By: Carolina Ruiz

One of the key factors of being a premedical student is the stress that comes along with it. Whether it be the constant stress of staying on top of your classes or making sure to schedule time for volunteering, shadowing, or work, it all becomes hectic very quickly.

 I’m sure that just like myself, many other students have had moments of doubt where they’ve questioned if this path is truly right for them. Sometimes, people around you or experiences can influence your perspective, making you doubt everything about yourself. Some students have to endure the pressures of family and the constant notion that they need to work harder as first-generations, like myself or first-time college students within their household. This is a heavy weight to take on, even when medicine is your passion. 

Be this as it may, I have realized that these are the moments we should embrace. These are the moments that are slowly shaping who we are as individuals. What you do along your journey is entirely your decision. There is no one right way in being a premedical student; there is only growth in learning and living as you choose to. 

One of best pieces of advice I’ve learned as a premed is to take my low points as part of the path. Without these points we would not be the resilient premeds, who have endured so much already. Rather we should learn to deal with this constant doubt we hold and use it in ways that benefit who we can be. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned a few lessons that I hoped to share with other premedical students out there who question themselves and what they do. You are stronger than you see, and never think any less. 

  1. Deal with anxiety and stress by use of positive affirmations.
    1. Many times we become overwhelmed with the fact that we aren’t doing well enough or we’re falling behind.
    2. These are the moments when saying things like “I’m a failure,” or “it will only get worse,” or “I just can’t do this” are common. 
    3. As minor as it sounds, taking the time to check yourself and saying things like “this will get better,” or “I will find ways to do better to the best of my abilities” can slowly help students overcome their anxiety and stress. Progress and perseverance won’t happen if you don’t believe in yourself first. 
  2. Take away self-criticism, and use self-compassion.
    1. One of the biggest commonalities I’ve noticed among other pre-med students is that we are often very critical of ourselves.
    2. Usually, pre-med students have a lot going on in their lives. Time management is essential, seeing as you could be managing multiple credits, extracurriculars, and volunteer/work experiences all at once. 
    3. Leave space for understanding that sometimes things will not go the way you plan. We are not perfect, as hard as we try to be. 
    4. Instead, learn from your mistakes and build. Next time you feel overwhelmed, remember it’s normal not to be able to manage so much. 
  3. Let go of the comparisons, build yourself up.
    1. One of the most obvious things we do as premed students is compare ourselves to the other students around us. 
    2. Whether it be the volunteering, interning, or work opportunities that another student is involved in, we tend to wonder what we should be doing to compare. 
    3. These types of thoughts build on lowering your self-esteem and questioning whether you’re good enough. 
    4. Instead of comparing yourself, take this energy into building up who you are and finding the opportunities you want for yourself.
    5. The moment you stop comparing yourself to those around you is the moment you start building the person you’re meant to be.
  4. Surround yourself with those who support you.
    1. The entire journey of being a pre-med, going to medical school, residency, fellowships, research, etc. is a very long one that should not be endured alone.
    2. There are many students out there who feel exactly the way you do – never forget that. You’re not alone in questioning whether you’re doing everything right. 
    3. Anyone who understands is there to listen, and having supportive friends throughout this path eases any overwhelming moments.  
    4. Keep the people who encourage you and remind you of everything you’re capable of doing.
  5. Don’t forget who you are.
    1. This one may seem a bit obvious, but I genuinely have noticed it in many other students, especially as you progress through your premed years. 
    2. Being a pre-med student is not who you are, it’s what you dedicate yourself to.  
    3. Do not let the constant stress, overwhelming feelings, and need to be at your best take over your life.
    4. Don’t forget to do the things you love. Being a premed may be intense and take a lot of your time, but you should not lose parts of yourself along the way. 
    5. You are unique in many ways and allowing yourself to enjoy doing the things you love makes a difference. We are capable of more than we think, and being ourselves should always be first. 

Ultimately, my main message to all my current and future premedical students out there is to continue on the path you’re on. Remember to be true to yourself, recognize your worth and resilience, and never forget that you don’t stand alone. 

Anna Vardapetyan

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