Once you’ve decided to embark on the journey to medical school, it’s only natural to be curious about what other pre-med students are doing. There have been plenty of times that I’ve casually asked another pre-med how they are preparing for med school. (Where do you volunteer? Where have you shadowed? What are your grades like? etc.) And, sure, most of this is out of genuine curiosity. But there’s a part of me that has my fingers crossed before I hear their answers, hoping and praying that my own resume is equally, if not more, competitive.
Discovering what others are doing can be inspiring and motivational. But, it can also be pretty intimidating. Ever heard the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”? That’s kind of what comes to mind. When I speak to other pre-meds, I often feel that I’m at a disadvantage. I feel isolated because my situation is not one most pre-meds can relate to.
I have a son. He’s 5—almost 6. Being a mother is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me, but it’s also one of the largest obstacles, in terms of my pre med journey. And this fact becomes especially evident when I speak to other pre-meds.
Most other pre-meds aren’t single parents. They can enjoy the typical college experience; they’re not doubling college with kindergarten. They’re free to study whenever they please; they don’t have to wait until a child is asleep. They’re free to shadow any time of day or night; they don’t have to check with a sitter beforehand. They’re free to join any campus club or organization; they don’t have to first find out if children can attend. They can do school, extracurriculars, and work without worrying who will meet the bus, without wondering if their child will be too sick for school, and without worrying about who will take their kid to and from sports practices if there is a time conflict.
The other day, I was browsing motivational quotes (a hobby of mine) and I came across one that read: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
And, it hit me. It hit me hard.
I realized that comparing your path to someone else’s is a mistake. We all have our own battles, our own struggles, and our own limitations. Whether it’s children, a personal illness, a sick family member, financial limitations, difficulty with chemistry, or whatever else… there is something that each of us finds challenging. We each have our own obstacles.
Of course our paths are not all the same! We are all unique so each of our stories will be as well. Our struggles make us who we are. They help us grow and give us purpose. Sometimes, our biggest obstacles turn out to be our biggest blessings—as my son has been for me.
I hope all premeds—parents or not—can reflect on their own journeys, recognize their own obstacles, and embrace them, rather than despise them. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. We all have our own paths and that’s a beautiful thing.
About Emily Newton
Emily Newton is a certified Radiologic Technologist and has been a member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists for three years. She is a senior psychology major at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina with plans to graduate December 2016. At her university, she serves as the Vice President of the Honors Club, Chief Copy Editor of the school paper, Supplemental Instruction Leader for PHIL 110 (Critical Thinking), and is a member of the Honors in the Major program. She contributes blogs for her local newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, and is also a member of the PTA at her son’s elementary school. She serves as lector coordinator at her church and, in the past, has taught Sunday school and coached youth soccer. She has shadowed at a children’s clinics, a pediatric neurology clinic, a nursing home, and a primary care clinic. She also volunteers at the CARE clinic for persons without medical insurance. She is a first generation college student and a mother. She plans on enrolling in a Masters program for Clinical Research after obtaining her B.S. and then, hopefully, gain acceptance into medical school!