Self-Reflection: What if I was NOT a pre-med…

A part of me always wondered how my college experience would have been like if I did NOT choose the pre-med route. Perhaps I would have been more involved with hobbies or activities outside of the classroom, made more and different friends, and would have been less stressed and uptight overall. I think my major and my decision to pursue medicine did affect how I approached college: I was a pretty focused student and it was apparent that academics was my top priority. I took this approach because I knew medical school admissions was tough and I had to get that GPA up as high as I could. I wasn’t a great standardized test taker so I predicted my MCAT score would not look stellar on my application, and I wasn’t worried about getting the “personal” side of my application (personal statement + extracurricular activities) across to medical schools. So that is why I, like many other pre-meds, dedicated a majority of my time to studying in college. That just goes with being a pre-med, and I know other pre-meds who can testify to this as well.

Don’t get me wrong. The “pre-med life” isn’t all about the books. There are some pre-meds who manage to have a very active social life and balance it all (I just call them “smartys” because they don’t need to study as much). I did get to go out with friends, and I did get to have fun in college. But it wasn’t as much as I would like. I remember many a times being stressed for an upcoming test and blocking out practically the week leading up to it, just so I can study. And this involved no or minimal hangout time with friends. A quick dinner might do, but no long, weighty conversations afterwards. This might seem extreme, but for me it was necessary so I can learn the material and get ready for the test. There were times that I thought, if I went into a completely different field of study, say, History for example (I am a bit of a history buff), how would my college life been different? And now that I’ve graduated, how would my post-grad life been different? I imagine that if I WAS a history major, maybe I would have had Experience A, which would lead to Experience B, and then a life-changing Experience C. I could have been headed in a whole new direction altogether! Isn’t that something exciting to think about!

And as I see my friends enter their careers, fresh out of college and starting their adult-life, a part of me wonders if I would have been happier doing the same. Instead of wracking up debt, I could have been earning and saving. Instead of signing myself up for more years of intense schooling, I could have been signing myself up for a 9-5 job where I can have my weekends free and an active nightlife, if I wanted. But then I remember this is the route I chose. This is what I’ve decided to do. This is what I believe would be fulfilling to me – to be a physician – and nothing else is quite the same.  No doubt these moments of self-reflection will enter my mind again, but then I’m quickly reminded, as they all say, that it will be worth it in the end if this is truly what you want to do.



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