‘I think my biggest challenge in college has been overcoming myself’

Go figure, my theory prevails again another year … science majors do not get to experience “dead week.”  This past week I had five, count them, five exams in one form or another. They weren’t finals.  Now I have finals. And needless to say, I have been a complete mess.

I had my semester mental breakdown on Friday.  I called my mom crying because I did not think I was going to meet the exceptionally high standards that I set for myself again.  After some tears, tension, anger and everything else that accompanies that much stress, I got to thinking about my biggest challenge.

I think my biggest challenge in college has been overcoming myself.  This is actually something I am still working on.  Anyway, what I mean is that I set these unattainable high standards for myself and when I don’t reach them, I beat myself up.  I completely tear myself down and feel dumb, which I think is one of the worst feelings, ever.

I basically expect perfection from myself, which is quite silly since we live in such a non-perfect world. I often tell myself that I set these standards because I am going into a competitive field (dentistry) and I do not want anything to stand in my way of going to the dental school of my choosing and having my own business.  But the reality is that creating standards that ultimately result in me beating myself down will not help me reach those goals.

My mom told me that one mistake won’t take away what I want.  My professor told me that I should not focus on the grades but rather learning the material.  My friend told me , “All you can do is the best you can do.” Once you’ve done that, you rest easy knowing you gave it your all.” My brother told me that stickers are great for cheering up (and that things will all work out in the end).  And my sister told me that one mistake shouldn’t be the end all of achieving what I want.

I think they are all right.   I am not quite sure how I can stop wanting perfection because I think we should always aim for the best.  I think what I need to learn is to accept mistakes.  I have created this eight-year plan to achieve my goals, but that doesn’t mean that everything is set in stone.

So, I guess it is all an uphill battle from here.  I will probably still have an occasional breakdown, and that’s OK.  But maybe I can start learning that it’s OK to make a mistake here and there.  What is even more admirable than working hard to reach a goal is working hard to reach a goal, making a mistake that knocks you down and leaping back up and running to finish line.

I will end with this quote, “Life is too short to wake up with regrets.  So, love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don’t.  And believe that everything happens for a reason…and if you get the change- take it.  If it changes your life — let it.  Nobody said it would be easy, they just promised that it would be worth it.”

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