I took my second exam of the semester this morning and found out a few hours ago that I had passed. It was a relief to pass, but I didn’t earn the score that I wanted.
It has been a struggle to motivate myself to study since I got back last month. I’ve been taking more breaks and time away from studying, simply because I needed to. From taking pre-scheduled yoga breaks, journaling throughout the day, to even an entire day off from studying, I learned from this exam block that I can take even more time off and still pass my exams.
Maybe this is because I am studying more efficiently. It’s hard to tell.
That being said, it’s been difficult to find the perfect balance; if I spend too many hours not studying, I feel anxious and if I spend multiple days in a row studying 12+ hours a day, I feel anxious as well. It’s easy to say that the happy medium is somewhere in-between, but it’s surprisingly difficult to achieve.
When my anxiety reaches a peak, so many things run through my mind. Am I cut out to do this? This can’t be normal. Why do so many people believe in my abilities to succeed? Will I disappoint them if I told them how anxious I was? Does anyone else feel like this? Should I take a leave of absence or simply quit?
I am realizing that this is a cycle that happens before every exam. My anxiety levels are sky high the week before exams, return to normal four days out, and increase the last two days. After the exam, I’m fine until the week before the next exam. When I say fine, this means anxiety levels that I consider normal for myself. As for my anxious thoughts, I’m learning to acknowledge them, but not believe them.
Having the second exam behind me, I finally have a study-free weekend and I plan on taking full advantage of it. I’m spending part of my day tomorrow helping at a free clinic. Helping seems too strong of a word to use, since I’m still learning my role. I went for the first time two weeks ago and I worked with a third year med student. I took some of our patient’s vitals, but I asked the third year if he can do the history-taking and physical exam.
I was so impressed watching the third year go through both components with such ease and confidence. I’ve learned how to take a history and performing a general physical exam in my Intro to Clinical Medicine course, but I don’t have experience taking focused histories, targeting a few problems. I plan on practicing that tomorrow, even though I’m a little nervous. Thankfully, all of the volunteers I met are friendly and helpful, making this a supportive environment to learn. Patients are aware that we are students (being checked off by our preceptor) and I’m grateful they are okay with me learning from them.
I’m also using the rest of my weekend to read and figure out plans for spring break. I’m currently reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown , Almost Everything by Anne Lamott , and A Balm for Gilead by Daniel Sulmasy . One of my favorite clinicians at school lent me the last book and I’m excited to read more of it this weekend.
I lowered my reading goal to 20 books this year (down from 50 from 2018) and I’m still a little sad about that. I’m hoping I surprise myself and somehow read 50 books again.
As for spring break, I wasn’t planning on going back to California, but I think the sun-deprivation I’m currently experiencing will reach an unhealthy level by then. Even when I go outside now, I forget that I live in a place that snows. I went outside this morning and had no idea that it snowed overnight. I was too lazy to walk back inside and change my shoes, so I ended up getting some snow in my non-snow boots. I think I would have been more annoyed, but I was too busy feeling grateful that it was no longer -8 degrees outside.
I love the snow (when it stays out of my shoes) and I love how the world seems quieter when there’s snow covering the ground. If I didn’t have to study, I would stare out the window all day with a cup of tea and a stack of books.
Maybe that’s what I’ll do on Sunday. Assuming that the snow hasn’t melted by then.