As med students we’re perfectionists by nature. No offense to anyone in any other field, but a 98% would drive us crazy although we might be able to live with a 99%. We’re usually pretty good under pressure as well, I mean we didn’t get into med school by accident. At our schools we were the “go to” people. We knew what we wanted and how to get it. We spent hours at school teaching rather than learning, but what happens when we come across a terrible system that suddenly makes us feel like we’re not good enough?
As a friend once told me “this isn’t something I’d be happy to be good at, but I’m going to feel like shit if I’m bad at it”. Truer words have never been spoken. There is knowledge in our curriculum that I simply do not care for and do not see as relevant in any way (truth be told the amount of irrelevant material has significantly decreased this year). It’s not just the bulk of the irrelevant material, but also how demanding the system is. We could even be in serious trouble just because the person responsible for the test has a problem with our class, which is unfortunately often the case.
So what we do? We sacrifice our lives. You miss extra curricular activities (sports, music, foreign languages) once or twice because you have to study. You don’t do good enough? You decide to take extra classes and put in more effort and time studying so you end up missing your sports team’s games. That definitely won’t help, so you decide to lock yourself inside to study. Your friends from school haven’t seen you in months. Now what? You’re not good enough. It’s ringing inside your head now “I’m not good enough”. You give up sleep in order to finish studying for a test, naturally a terrible idea, and still.
Test after test, and there are a lot of them, week after week and it’s not just a ringing voice in your head now. It’s something you believe “I’m not good enough”. All for what? Because you’re tested in a way that doesn’t come close to assessing how good a doctor you’re going to become. All for your “rank”. It’s ABSURD to rank students from first to last. It’s outrageous and to this day I can’t get my head around it. What makes it worse is that most of us are used to being ranked except now you’re not first, you’re not even in the top 100 or 200. Now you see the flaw in the system.
It sucks from this point forward. You’ve given up all your hobbies and interests. Your mind and spirit are exhausted from all the “failure” and you have no desire to try again. You just give up. You don’t try anymore. It still kills you inside because deep down you’ll always be that A student who got all the stickers in elementary and gave a speech at his high school graduation, but it hurts less to just not try.
Nobody is satisfied, even most of those who have “achieved success” have given up so many things in order to achieve it. The answer? Your satisfaction should not come from how well you do at a corrupt system. Find a way to assess yourself, know what matters on a test. Some questions you should feel bad about not knowing, learn to identify them. Most importantly, never give up on what you love, whether it be people or activities. Do your own thing, find what makes you special, be inspired by those around you.
Be inspired by your friend who can laugh at himself. By a professor who teaches like no tomorrow. By your parents. By the happiness of a 5 year old relative. Inspiration is all around us but our heads are buried too deep in books that we can’t see it.