I see numerous posted pictures on social media of college students studying late at night, cramming for tests, and getting frustrated with material. While viewing these images, I can’t help but get flashbacks of the times I was in the same position stressed and anxiety-ridden over upcoming exams. Over the course of my experience in blogging and social media, I have met numerous amazing people, which includes students, fashionistas, clinicians, other professionals, mental health advocates, and people coping with mental illnesses. I am always taken aback each time someone comments on my intelligence and fortitude because I never viewed myself as academically gifted nor standout in any way. I studied A LOT, attended office hours (even though I was too scared to ask any questions), diligently highlighted and took notes during and after class, drew study diagrams, attended practically EVERY class (I could never get myself to entrust in blackboard), participated in several organizations and held positions (even though I was often too nervous to voice my opinion), and volunteered at hospitals as often as I could. I knew my grades and MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores weren’t going to be enough to get accepted into medical school, so I filled my resume with numerous meaningful activities to prove I’d be a good candidate.
I guess the reason I’m writing this is because I’d hate to see anyone give up on their goals just because they’re not inherently the smartest, nor ranked at the top of their class, nor well-connected with professors and administration, or may be struggling with a difficult life event or an episode of mental illness. I often advocate for my college patients who struggle with mental illness to take time off from school to focus on self-care rather than crushing themselves to points beyond instability. If there’s anything that I have learned most from my mentors, my own experience, and also my patients’ experiences is that persistence and execution of your goals are key, and if it takes a bit longer to get there, then so be it. Persistence can mean anything from allowing yourself to regroup from illness, taking a break for experiential work to explore and solidify your goals, to putting yourself in roles that challenge you beyond your comfort zone.
So, while you anxiously await your exam scores, grad school acceptance letters, etc, I hope you entrust that the outcome (whether exciting or disappointing) will lead you a step in the right direction towards self-enhancement and achievement of your ultimate goal.
Photo by Marlon Santos