Lessons learned as a pre-med health student
As I enter my last year with Arizona State University, I am faced with an array of overwhelming tasks, responsibilities and choices that will determine the course of my future, including which medical schools I am accepted into. Knowing that every choice matters and every step I take will impact my future, I have dedicated this year to being intentional with my choices and habits.
With that said, there are five important lessons I have learned throughout my undergraduate experience as a pre-med health student.
The first lesson I learned is that, in order to succeed with earning As in difficult classes, one must prioritize and schedule time for studies. I began my academic career with ASU Online while still on treatment full time. My full-time work was going to doctor appointments and running my own dog walking business. And after I stopped treatment, I began working full-time in the medical field while closing out my dog business and still doing maintenance doctor appointments. Learning how to fit schoolwork into my schedule was vital to succeeding and excelling. I learned the value of time management and accomplishing my top priorities first before fun.
The second lesson I learned, is that one must create balance in all areas of life. Even though during the week my main focus would be on work and school, I made sure that I was nurturing other areas of my life daily as well. By creating a daily plan of healthy habits and tasks for each area of my life, it helped create wholeness and satisfaction within me. I learned to listen to what my emotions and my body were telling me it needed. If I felt restless, unmotivated, or unfocused, I would stop what I was doing, go outside in nature and just breathe in gratitude for where I was at in my journey and what beautiful things were standing before me presently. I would incorporate short breaks in between my studies to promote wellness and peace. Making sure I was being mindful of each area of my life helped me not only excel in my academic life but in other areas of my life as well.
The third lesson I learned is that one should not compare where they are to where another person is in life. Comparison is the root of all doubt. Because I had to take time off my undergrad work to pursue full-time treatment, I fell deep into the pit of comparison and doubt. This was a struggle that only hindered me from being led to where I needed to be to thrive and feel truly happy and fulfilled. Even though I am 27 and still working on my bachelor’s degree, I have come to peace with it. I proved to myself that nothing can take away what’s for me without my permission to do so. Some people drop out of college and never go back. I chose to finish what I started, and I came out stronger than I was before. I came out with a more purposeful dream and destiny that I would have never had if I hadn’t become ill and went through that obstacle. I learned that I am on my own journey, and I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Time is just a number, not a determinant of whether I can or cannot achieve greatness.
The fourth lesson I learned is that managing one’s stress is vital to mental, relational, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Stress is another obstacle that will try and steal the joy away from everything. Stress tries to unload an unbearable burden upon you, and then because you aren’t supposed to be carrying that heavy burden, other things manifest, such as guilt, shame, jealousy, resentment, and anger. Stress can manifest into so many unhealthy and toxic habits which are then produced through choices that affect our present-day and future day. I learned the difficult lesson of what stress produces in one’s mind, body and spirit, and it does not end well. This helped ground me in peace, even when I was being surrounded by different levels of stress. And because of this, I began to approach school differently, my goals differently, and situations differently. And that created a thriving environment for which my academic life flourished.