Being a doctor was my childhood dream. When I found out I was starting medicine, I couldn’t have been more excited. Here was the start of the rest of my amazing life…or so I thought.
It turned out that my first year was anything but that. I had moved states, severed contact with my support systems who were scattered across different cities, and had to struggle to come to terms with the successive losses of close family members – all whilst trying hard to not drown in an overwhelming postgraduate curriculum. I withdrew from the few friends I had made, stopped showing up to classes, and felt like I had failed at life all together. Here I was, supposedly living my dream, and I was anything but happy. I frequently battled with thoughts of self-doubt, anxiety, guilt and shame – surely I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself when I was being constantly reminded that I was lucky to be studying medicine.
I let myself go on this way for more than a year before I realised enough was enough. It took a couple of loved ones reaching out to me, and a few counselling sessions for me to realise that I really needed to start putting myself first and to fight for my own happiness.
I still do have my bad days, as anyone would, but I’m far more resilient at coping through them. It’s easy to be sucked into the pressures of med school, to be comparing yourself to your peers and to be getting involved in a whole heap of activities that may not always be benefitting you emotionally because you want to be an all-rounded person.
But I’ve realised the hard way that it’s far more important to be a happy person. I now focus on the things that bring me happiness. I schedule in time to try out a new recipe, listen to my favourite songs, learn a new skill, and speak to my close friends. These habits make me happy and remind me that while I am very much on the way to my dream career, this, right now, is my dream life.