“Oh you who believe! seek help with patient Perseverance and Prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere”. Surat Al-Baqarah, ayah 153
Looking at your schedule for the next three weeks is really depressing. Not only do you have four exams, but you also have labs three days a week, classes from 8 AM-5 PM, and a group project to hand in. You are at an absolute loss of how to study and really need to do well on these exams in order to have a strong foot hold when finals roll around. You haven’t seen your family in ages, you miss hanging out with your friends, and you have no idea with what is going on in the world outside of neuroanatomy and pathology. Pulling your hair, you question yourself why are you even doing this if you have not even learned anything about how to be a physician, and briefly debate dropping out. Don’t give up!
Ask any student in the health professional field; we’ve all been there. We’ve all had moments in which we wondered why we signed away our lives for a four year contract when it seems impossible to even survive. In the first semester of my first year, I was literally at the end of my rope. I had given up many activities that I enjoyed and spent less time with my family in order to give my studies the full dedication and attention they deserved, yet still did not perform as well I expected on the first few exams. It was very depressing, the fact that I gave up everything, including my sleep, yet still did not achieve my goals was disheartening. I began to question whether this was the right place for me or not, and looking at the high averages, wondered whether I was intelligent enough to keep up with my class. Everyone seemed to be doing fine while participating in numerous activities, while I could barely juggle a few extracurriculars. I was tired of the long commute, and was ready to call it quits. At the same time, I was receiving letters of invitation to prestigious PhD programs that seemed so much more inviting than the life I was leading at that time. However, alhamdulillah Allah SWT granted me the patience to hold on and to have patience. After a few weeks, the studying became easier, the classes more interesting, I got used to the commute, and there was more time for myself. When the second semester started, I knew the drill and saw major improvement in all my grades.
When you feel like you are at your breaking point, stop and take a second to look around you. You are not the only person experiencing this hardship. The upperclassmen went through this not so long ago, your clinical professors sat in your seat twenty years ago, and the generations that have passed and will come all have and will go thorough this as well. You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last, so have some confidence that you will overcome these obstacles in your life. If the Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessing be upon him) or any of the other Prophets (AS) had given up spreading the message of Islam when they experienced hardships and were abused and shunned by their people at times, where would we have been today? At the same time, those who have patience are rewarded many times over for simply holding on and not losing faith in Allah SWT. Isn’t that a blessing within itself?
When you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, take a few minutes to pray two rakahs and make duaa for Allah SWT to grant you sabr, or patience. It helps to remember that Allah SWT has everything written down for you already, you just need to do your part and leave it up to Him, tawakal al’a Allah. Another strategy that a professor once mentioned was that whenever you wonder why you are here again, take a trip down to your school clinic and hang out for awhile. Follow some upperclassmen and residents, and you will remember what attracted you to the medical field in the beginning. It works wonders; you will feel encouraged to get through the semester so you will be a step closer to the real stuff. It’s a tough road, but he did it, she did it, I did it, and you can do it as well. Just hang in there!