One of the hardest things about medical school is the social isolation that invariably happens, due to the number of hours we have to dedicate to studying. We have to prioritize our studies over everything else, and that usually means saying “no” countless times to social events, friends, and family.
That hit me the hardest during the second year of med school. There were so many things to learn, so many exams, so many hours in clinic, that it was very difficult to find time for anything else. I mentioned in a previous post that my classmates were all much younger than me (by at least 10 years), which meant that, even though we got along well, we never became close friends. And the few friends I had outside of school got tired of hearing “sorry, I can’t, I have to study” and eventually stopped calling.
In medicine, everyone will tell you that it’s important to keep a balanced lifestyle, that you need to have fun and decompress, have a social life, exercise, sleep, eat well. What not many people will tell you is that sometimes, all you can do is keep your grades up and your head above water. And so you feel like a failure, and you try to do better at balancing things and you get even more stressed because you can’t.
If you’re feeling that way, you’re not alone. You’re not a failure. Right now, you’re prioritizing your academic life and your professional future, and that’s ok. The amount of work will decrease, you will get better at managing it, and you will come out the other side stronger than ever. The skills you learn during the hardest times in medical school will serve you well during residency.
Looking back, if I had to give myself one piece of advice to make my second year a little better, it would be this: don’t be afraid to ask for help. Academically, personally, even financially. It made all the difference for me, and it’s something I have incorporated into my daily life. It takes a little courage at first, but it’s worth it. Give it a try!