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Peer Advice: Being Kinder to Myself in Graduate School


You finally made it to the final stretch for the goal that you've been working so hard for the past few years: graduate school.

Is it easy? Or is it harder than you thought it would be? To me, graduate school is so different from undergrad, since there is a dense course load of relevant material to learn while you have a social life to balance outside of school.

Last year, as I was transitioning from my gap year to my first year in optometry school, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with all the empty checkboxes on my to-do list, unmotivated to study, and disappointed in some of my exam scores. On top of that, it was so easy to compare myself to my classmates who seemed to quickly grasp the concepts, finish assignments much earlier than me, and were always practicing their clinical skills.

This unhealthy mindset from doing all of the above made it harder to remember why I was in school. I was a lot harder on myself than I should have been, and it took a few weeks/month to understand that while they were normal feelings, it was not okay to treat myself as if I wasn't already putting in a lot of work into my education.

Here are a few reminders to myself to make sure I am being kind to myself (and I hope they help you out too!):

  • No one's perfect.
  • Failure is part of the process. Be realistic with yourself and your expectations so it doesn't negatively impact your mentality.
  • Grades aren't everything. The most important thing is that you are working your hardest to become a good clinician, which absolutely no doctor will say depends on perfect grades.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others!! The only person you should be comparing yourself to is the best version of yourself, and if you truly feel like you've been putting 100% (of what you can) into your schooling, then wherever you are is perfectly acceptable.
  • MBKU will make sure that you will become a great healthcare provider at the end of the day.

We know it's important to be kind to others, but I think a lot of us underestimate how important it is to be kind to yourself. That includes: taking breaks, incorporating self-care into your schedule, recognizing your achievements, having a good support system that will listen to your worries, and taking care of your physical and mental health. I hope that you're able to keep your spirits up despite suboptimal exam or proficiency scores. You entered your health program for a reason, and admissions saw all the potential in you. Find out what works best for you and you'll be on the path to success!

Here are some similar blogs from fellow peer advisors that may help with being kind to yourself:

  • The Importance of Self Care in Grad School
  • Different Activities to help prevent Burnout
  • How To Ask For Help
  • How I Destress Right Before Tests
  • Be Intentional in Building Relationships
  • How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome & Maintain Mental Health in Grad School