Posted by fxckfeelings on August 30, 2016Share This Post
When we’re desperate to push ourselves to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks, drive and doubt can combine to create an inner drill-sergeant: a loud, insulting voice in your head that screams all the insults of a military commander but much less flying spittle. Unfortunately, that balance of drive and doubt can be precarious, so if you push yourself too far you may go from driven to too depressed and full of self-hate to do much of anything. As with a new recruit, you may have no choice over your commander/the kinds of emotions that get you going, but you can learn how to manage those emotions so they don’t cause you to give up and go AWOL.
I’m a 23-year-old man who spent my formative years as this retarded socially awkward mute and at some point after visiting hospitals for work experience I decided I wanted to be a physician really fucking badly. The only problem was I was a moron who spent his formative years playing video games instead of taking the right science classes or getting good grades. I then spend an extra year working my ass off and taking the right classes at night and volunteering in health care during the day. Since the start of the whole ordeal, my academic advisor has been telling me it’s never going to happen and I should go for nursing, and I’m thinking, “fuck you, I’m going to be a doctor!” Then I don’t actually get the grades to get into med school—they’re all a grade below what I need—and in order to fix them I would have to repeat another 1-2 years, which isn’t a possibility. I then think about going to the nearest bar to drink myself to death, but I don’t, so off I go to study psychology with some health studies thrown in. I’m now in the 2nd year of course and need to get interested in becoming a clinical therapist, otherwise I won’t have the motivation to get a good grade. My goal is to figure out how to become interested in becoming a therapist other than gritting my teeth, giving up on my dream/accepting that I’m stupid, and getting on with my shit.
Having a great deal of single-minded determination is often thought of as a blessing; just look at the maudlin athlete profiles running during Olympic coverage. Without such drive, success (e.g., gold medals, sneaker endorsements, meme status, etc.) is much harder to achieve.
If, however, bad luck blocks your path to success, despite fierce determination and obsession, your drive quickly goes from blessing to curse. Then you end up cursing yourself for all your personal shortcomings that you feel make your drive useless.
While it’s not easy to put your powerful, frustrated determination aside, it’s important to remember what you’ve actually achieved. Relationships and school didn’t come easily to you, but you still went out in the world, explored possible professions, and made a huge effort to acquire a premedical education. In the process, when you discovered that you couldn’t get the required science grades, you overcame your despair and redirected yourself towards a therapy degree.
Instead of focusing on the one goal that’s out of reach and the feelings of failure and self-recrimination it inspires, acknowledge how much you have accomplished, and how well you’ve done everything you can with what you’ve got.
Of course, after the effort you’ve made, it must be incredibly frustrating to find yourself without motivation to do well in your current program. Unfortunately, losing motivation, like losing out on meeting lofty goals, is another obstacle over which no one has complete control.
If you’re unmotivated because you can’t get over feeling like a failed medical student, try to find better reasons for becoming a clinician of any kind, like volunteering in a psychiatric hospital to see whether you enjoy working with mentally ill people and value the kind of help they receive. If the excessively critical thoughts persist, go from the mental hospital to the office of a therapist who can teach you how to fight back against them whenever you can’t accomplish what you want. Also, get checked out for depression, which can both rob you of motivation and flood you with self-hate and -doubt.
In any case, don’t disrespect yourself or call yourself “retarded,” “a moron,” etc. You’re serious, capable, and have worked hard to find a useful job. If you want to help others, you must value your efforts to help others without kicking yourself for underperforming when you’ve done your best. Remember that your goal is to find a career that allows you to do good, challenging, important work in the medical field, regardless of what degree you achieve or your specific license or specialty.
As long as you remember why you’re working so hard, how far you’ve come and your worthy reasons for making the effort in the first place, your motivation should overcome your frustration and lead you to a career you can be proud of.
“I hate the idea of getting nothing from my courses but burnout and uncertainty, but I know I’ve got strong motivation, I’m proud of what I’ve done so far, and I will continue to look for work that fits my personality and abilities.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname