Medical school is not like Grey’s Anatomy. Or Scrubs. At all.
I am a doer. I have always been this way ever since I was a primary school student. Assignments, tasks, anything—if I was told to do something, it would get done without questions, complaints, or other difficulties. But in spite of this, I have never been a go-getter. If left to my own devices, I am not sure if I would ever accomplish anything. Maybe this is because of my personality, maybe it is because I have depression––I don’t really know. What I do know, however, is that if you instruct me to accomplish something, I will. And it will be done extremely well.
I have never been a go-getter. I feel as if I have constantly been living a lie, surrounded always by extremely motivated and hard-working peers who wish to accomplish amazing things. I live this life currently as a medical student, and I am reminded of this reality on a daily basis, whether it be in the classroom, in the hospital or clinic, and even at social functions. Everyone seems to have aspirations of doing things years into the future—career goals and personal goals—and I haven’t even thought about what I want to eat for dinner, who I want to call before I go to bed, where I want to spend the rest of my life.
I have never been a go-getter. That is why medical school has been so hard for me. Everyone says this is supposed to be the best, most rewarding year of medical school, but for me, it has been amazingly difficult. I perform exceptionally well when instructed to perform exceptionally well. Just look at my grades from the preclinical years. Look at my score on the licensing boards. Everyone told me these were important metrics I would need to perform well on, that they would serve me well later in my career. So I did. But that has not been the case with the residents and attendings I have met this year. Everyone is so nice and always looks out for our time, our well-being, our mental health; I cannot even tell you how many times I have been told to “go home, don’t waste your time staying here” when things begin to slow down on the wards. They probably assume that I will go home and start studying for a shelf or engage in exceptionally motivating and intellectually stimulating activities like my peers. Yet, I do not. I am not told to do things as I was during the first two years of medical school. Because of this, I have been labeled as “average” by many I have worked with. Their comments always read the same: “performs exceptionally well when given direction, but does not actively pursue interests or read on patients on his own volition.” I am a doer. I have never been a go-getter.
I have never been a go-getter. I recognize that this is hurting me with respect to my clinical evaluations compared to my peers. I keep telling myself that I need to change my behavior, that now is the time to finally be different. But change is hard. Depression is hard. As I am writing this, it is becoming evident to me that whoever reads this will be confused as to whether I should seek help or if I just truly just do not care. My therapist agrees that this is something I need to change if I am going to be successful during these next two years of medical school and into residency/my future practice. But change is hard. Depression is hard.
It isn’t just medicine, though. I lose friends because I don’t reach out to people; they think I don’t care. I do care, I just do a poor job of showing it. People I have been involved with romantically lose interest because I wait for things to happen instead of taking initiative. In the end, though, it all comes back to medicine. My clinical evaluations suffer because I do not show enough interest. No one ever asks me how I’m doing; they tell me I have to be the one to ask other people. I have never been a go-getter.
But I want to change. I don’t want to be this way forever. I want to want to take initiative. To come to the hospital every day wanting to actively engage my patients: their stories, hopes, and deepest fears. I want to be the one who desires more, who does not accept complacency. Who wonders about how I can make an impact on someone’s life every day. Who finally makes the first move and just asks them out. Who reaches out to a friend to remind them that I care.
I have never been a go-getter. But I don’t want to continue to passively watch my life pass me by. I have missed enough already.
I have never been a go-getter. But I want nothing more than to try to be.