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Doing hard things

Here’s the truth: College is really hard. It is hard because you are doing so much, always with the question lingering in the back of your mind: Am I doing the right things? I don’t mean the right things to get you to your desired destination (graduate school, nursing school, professional school, a job, etc.) but the right things for your life and for a meaningful life. I think it is truly imperative to ask yourself these questions. I literally ask myself an iteration of the same question every day. Am I doing this right? Am I engaging in activities and with people that are pushing me towards what I want in my life? Am I doing meaningful work, for the right reasons? Am I a happy person? Am I happy in the situation that I am in, doing what am I am doing? I can be honest and tell you that sometimes the answer is no; I am not happy doing certain things or being with certain people. In these moments, it is critical to acknowledge this quality and then, importantly, modify behavior. I ask myself these questions with hope that I find truthful answers – so that I can deliberately and intentionally identify where in my life unhappiness or resentment starts to permeate my peace. I don’t mistake sleeplessness or mental fatigue for unhappiness – these things are usually temporary and can be remedied with a good night’s rest and relaxation. But I do acknowledge that fulfilling purpose requires deep commitment and faith. Things will inevitably change – perhaps both interests and circumstances. It is important to be open to these changes. I recently changed my major and minor this semester because I was intentionally and deliberately asking myself if I was getting everything that I desired with the path I had designed for myself. The truth is – I love writing and my literature courses, I love both my biology and chemistry courses, and I had a way that I could harmoniously love both for the next two years (and beyond, of course). The point is that I was open and comfortable with altering my course. The endpoint is the same. The pathway there is different. I encourage you, when you’re drowning in articles to read, papers to write, exams to study for, meetings to attend, jobs to uphold, you mentally take a break long enough to ask yourself why it is you are doing what you do. Robotic, mechanistic activity has a place in this world – but not in the activity of one’s life. I want to love what I do, both now as a student and in the future as a physician. If you are miserable in your journey to your dream destination, I would highly suggest reconsidering why you’re chasing that dream. Life is simply too short to be cranky all the time. Life is too short to be unhappy. Yes, there will be moments of uncertainty, of pressure, of questioning, and of doubt. In these moments, not if you survive them but when you do, you will find yourself strengthened and purposeful. There are certainly days I am tired (just ask me any day and I’ll tell you, easily) but there are days where passion triumphs fatigue and inspiration refocuses all the reasons I dream big dreams and chase them with everything I have. I implore you to ask yourself hard questions and don’t be afraid to do hard things. Honestly – I really believe you can.

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