PMD 3: The Constant Struggle of Comparing Myself to Others

Session 03

When you’re struggling with anything in life, premed related or not, it’s very easy to look at them and think they have it easy. We need to stop comparing.

Share your highs and lows with us! Please call in and share your experience. Call 1-833-MYDIARY. Press 1 if you want to leave an entry and 5 if you want to leave a feedback (make sure to tell us which episode you’re calling about).

[01:12] Poster of the Week:

“I’m studying for the MCAT… it’s a very humbling experience, I could say that for sure. But it seems that I’m struggling with comparing myself to the ones around me. Well, I work so hard and I’m trying my best to get a really good MCAT score. People around me seems to easily get a 510+. And what I need to tell myself is I need to stop comparing myself to people around me and that other people’s success is not my failure. I’m not hating on them. I wish everybody the best. But it seems that the past few days, I’ve just been struggling with this concept of… in looking at others, I keep feeling like there’s something wrong with me or I’m not doing enough or I’m not giving it enough, which I am. I’m really working a lot.

I’m fully dedicated to MCAT studying. It’s like a 9-5 job for me every single day. I have to figure out how I can not compare myself because everybody does differently and it’s okay if I failed. And it’s okay for me to take it again. I just have to accept that. If someone else is going through this too, know that you’re not in this alone. Well, I’m assuming I’m not in this alone so that helps me get through this and realize that it’s okay to not score as well on your full-lengths in the beginning. So I still have a way to go. But it’s okay.

One of my greatest weaknesses right now is accepting. And it’s okay to mess up and make mistakes because right now I can learn from them. And I need to stop comparing myself to premeds around me who are getting 510s and 518s. I need to enjoy this journey. I feel I’m just stressing out and the anxiety is causing me to not do well. So I need to learn how to enjoy this journey. So that’s another thing I’m working on. I hope that this helps someone out there too. I’m not alone.”

[04:22] A Humbling and Frustrating Experience

Studying for the MCAT as both humbling and frustrating are ver common among premeds, as well as the difficulty in not comparing yourself to other people. MCAT is a very hated exam and it can be very humbling for many people. You can study and study and still not get the score that you feel you need.

'The MCAT is probably the most hated exam out there among premed students and among people studying science.'Click To Tweet

If you listened to Dr. Ryan Gray’s The Premed Years Podcast, he’d tell you that you don’t need a specific score to get into medical school. And he has so much great information to people about the MCAT as well as The MCAT Podcast.

Getting frustrated about the MCAT is a common feeling so don’t beat yourself up about that. You know what you’re doing since you’re working really hard. And that’s exactly what you need to do to get through it. So just stick with it.

[05:50] Comparing Yourself to Other People

Comparing yourself to other people is a common thing humans do, whether you’re a premed or not. We do it as children and even as adults. We just don’t show it or being as obvious as when we were children.

'It's a very human characteristic to compare yourself to other people.'Click To Tweet

It’s also human to almost want other people to be having a hard time as well and to not be doing well on the MCAT because there’s that saying, misery loves company. And that’s a human thing. Humans don’t want to go through difficult things by themselves. It’s human to experience the tough things in life with a partner or somebody you can be with so that you’re not alone. So when you see other people succeed and you’re working hard and feeling like you’re failing, it can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. And it can be very isolating.

However, at the end of the day, you need to remember that you really don’t know how easy it is for those other people. Who knows? You’re not with them all the time. They could also be studying all day and night, losing sleep. Every human being’s journey is really different.

Interestingly, you look on social media and see people always putting their best selves forward. You don’t see them crying, arguments, or bad grades. People are not going to post about things like that. They don’t tell you how bad life is and putting forward their failures because it’s not something we’re taught to do.

We’re not taught to make a big deal about failing. We’re taught to make a big deal about a good grade and be the best in anything. We get rewarded as human beings for being the best, not for our failures.

So your peers might seem like they’re doing really well but who really knows? Hence, take whatever your peers are telling you with a grain of salt. What you want to do is focus on your journey.

[09:05] It’s Okay to Fail and Enjoy the Journey

It’s okay to make mistakes. Failure is one of your best teachers. In the same way, you need to learn how to enjoy the journey. But it’s hard to live in the moment when you’re so focused on your goal of getting into medical school. And it’s really challenging to study for something which is just a stepping stone to getting to that goal.

'Failure is one of the best teachers out there.' Click To Tweet

I suggest you find the most interesting thing in what you’re studying for that day. Then hang onto that. Or find other things in life right now that can give you a break and enjoy. Studying for the MCAT 9-5 can be incredibly monotonous so it’s important to really find kernels of things you’re really interested in, in what you’re studying. And also balance that with things outside of it that can give you some respite and relief.

[11:40] People Study in Different Ways

When you get to medical school, you’re going to be surrounded by several other students who are taking the exact same test as you and focusing on the exactly the same material day in and day out. People study the same thing but they have different ways of studying. And that goes back to this concept that everybody has a different journey. So don’t worry about what other people are doing since they have zero bearing on you. You maybe on the same path to medical school, but totally different footprints.

'Figure out what works for you. Figure out what you need to do to get whatever score you have as your goal.'Click To Tweet

Essentially, you need to embrace your own self-worth. Embrace your own path and what is unique about you that makes you, you.

[14:00] Some Inspiring Quotes for You

'Never compare yourself to others, you have no idea what they've been through.'Click To Tweet
'If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter. If you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.'Click To Tweet

Therefore, try as much as you can to put blinders on with other people. If it bothers you to be with other people, go find a quiet place to study. Do what you need to do to succeed. And this will serve you when you get to medical school.

[15:50] Feedback for Episode 1

Feedback #1: Our listener wishes to thank the poster for the inspiration. She was still feeling overwhelmed and hearing there is someone working out, made a difference in her day.

Feedback #2: The listener is a nontrad student and mom with a fulltime job plus her parttime job. And she sympathizes with not having enough time and not being able to feel like she’s on top of everything. She feels like she’s always one step behind or she’s missing something. She finds it nice to know that there are other people that have the same feeling and are also going through it. It helps to not feel so lonely.

Thank you for calling in and giving your feedback. Please call in and share your experience. Call 1-833-MYDIARY. Press 1 if you want to leave an entry and 5 if you want to leave a feedback (make sure to tell us which episode you’re calling about).


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Premed Diaries Episode 01: The Pressure to Be a Perfect Premed

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