Friends? You mean my books?

The balance between work and play

I actually found medical school to be pleasantly surprising in the sense that you actually don’t have to crawl under a rock in order to be successful. Before starting, I had the notion that life as I knew it was over. Yes, you have a lot of material to learn and much of your time is consumed with academics, but you also have a lot of time to spend with your friends and with yourself. Professional school is not something you want to go through alone. You need to keep in touch with your friends! And the people in your class are some of the best people to get close to because no one will ever understand your struggle the way they do.

The best memories you have usually involve other people. You probably don’t remember anything from when you were studying all night for a test. You’re more likely to remember a night when you put school to the side and celebrated a friend’s birthday or went to a concert or got all dressed up for a party. Those were the times when you had the least amount of stress and the most laughs. But how is it possible to make time for that while trying to drink from this metaphorical firehose that is medical school? The answer lies in time management–which we’ve all been told about for years. But once we figure out the method/schedule/study habits that works for us, we’re free to decide how to use our time.

Study guilt is a mind game that many professional students (including me) play with themselves where you feel guilty for having fun because you think should be studying instead. You believe everyone else can afford to have fun except for you. But guess what? Everyone is operating on their own schedule. You design yours based on what you need to stay sane. And be empowered by that! Don’t let the feeling of study guilt keep you from enjoying your life. What Person A does on Friday afternoon, you may have planned to do Sunday morning. And that’s fine. You can both turn up Saturday night with no guilt.

We joke about our books being “bae for the night,” and sometimes that’s true! But over the long-term, they shouldn’t replace your friends or become a constant excuse to not call or hang out. There’s time to work and there’s time to play. When it’s grind time, be all about it. Focus. Curb distractions. Be in the zone. But when it’s time to play, play! Let go of the stress. Be in the moment. Make memories. Living in the balance between those two makes the journey more worthwhile.

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