Things my 18-year-old self knew

Written by Preeyati Chopra, Intern

Government Medical College & Rajindra Hospital, Patiala

Disclaimer: All the opinions shared in this article are solely my own as a medical student, and do not intend to impose them on anyone.

“I’m not the same person I was” was something I’d always heard from our seniors about how college had changed them. I used to think, I know everything I need to in the first year itself, I have no idea why are they talking like this, and boy! I was wrong.

First things first, you have entered medical school and you will leave it after passing all the exams. Focus on learning about the human body with utmost interest. Explore the world around you as much as you can. That anatomy substage you need to pass, you will be just fine.

I have always tried to learn new skills, and meet new people through my experiences. It has been a journey of ups and downs but I’ve gained quite an insight into developing skills that catapult you into the center of a lot of opportunities. For example, to experience life outside a medical curriculum, try your hand at:

Dress for the occasion   By ‘dress’ I don’t mean literally dress. In this hyperconnected world, learn what you should share for particular platforms. This might seem like a very simple thing to do but trust me, it matters. A lot. Just for driving the point home, imagine wearing ripped jeans to a formal interview! It might be something that you like wearing but it’s not appropriate for the occasion.   Similarly, maintaining boundaries in your platforms helps reflect different aspects of your personality.  Don’t slack off   Imagine you’ve been selected for a role you applied for! You would be excited for a day or two but then you don’t feel like doing the work. Believe me, this is as much of a problem for you as for the team you’re working in. There is no harm in repeatedly asking your doubts as much as it is ‘seen-zoning’ the team and ignoring your work. Effective communication for the win!   Maintaining a professional work ethic takes you miles ahead of a lot of people before you even begin the work.Teamwork makes the dream work   Working in a professional setting is very different from being a student. You tend to rely on your teammates to let you know things that you might skip out on or help you out by adjusting your duties in time of need. Not everything is and should be a competition. Studying together improves learning, enjoying together helps you make beautiful memories, and even boredom doesn’t feel like the end of the world if you have a friend in it with you.   The idea is to build connections that are lasting and that you can depend on.

Personally, everything from my view of time, money, friends, love, mental health, physical health, and eating habits, has changed. If I honestly knew, things would turn out just fine, I probably wouldn’t have been so stressed out (my habit, may not apply to the reader). Some things that I would definitely encourage everyone reading this to do:

Reflect every day     Think for a couple of minutes about how your day went, what hurt you, and what made you smile, Write down these thoughts if you want. This is the only place where you track your habits and where even before it actually happens you know things might not be going according to what you planned.Healthy mind = Healthy body (and vice versa)   You become what you eat or think. Having cheat days is okay as long as you get back to keeping yourself healthy but the habit of having cheat months wherein your dietary health is in poor shape, you might be irritated or just sad on top of the sedentary lifestyle you live with might be a problem that needs attention.Your people matter & experiences matter   Friends in college are a family. You laugh with them, cry with them, stress out with them, celebrate with them and experience new things with them. Keep them close by, even if the times you fight. Having a support system through thick and thin is the secret to tiding over difficult times ahead.   Make sure you attend that concert/event and give yourself time to refresh! (not on the cost of your academic though)

My college experience might not look like yours and I’m pretty sure it won’t. Everyone has their own experiences. We make our own memories and we have our jokes.

We don’t realize but these are the times when what we sow, both the good and the bad, has a long-lasting effect on how we approach our journey after college.

Just a reminder, that third chocolate bar might not be worth the pimple you would wake up tomorrow!

Carpe Diem!

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