Is it going to be worth it?

I’m sitting at my dinner table in my parent’s house following our basketball team’s incredible win in the Final Four that sends us to the National Championship.  This hasn’t happened in 20 years, and I am at home with my cat attempting to study physics but mostly wanting to cry over the fact that I am not in Ann Arbor (or Atlanta) with my fellow wolverines.  I’m home because I have a physics exam next week that I need to ace to save my grade, and I knew that being in Ann Arbor would keep me from studying.  Now I’m asking myself if it is going to be worth it in the end.

If I didn’t have an exam this coming week, I would probably be in Atlanta right now.  No, I’m not the world’s biggest basketball fan—I honestly didn’t watch many games until March Madness—but I knew what making it to the Final Four meant, and I know what this win today means.  I was 6 months old the last time Michigan went this far in the tournament, and now it has happened while I am actually a student here.  I don’t know if this will happen again.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t take the weekend off.  Being pre-med is tough.  It brings a lot of stress, not only because of the class load but also because of the looming application process that will focus so heavily on my GPA.  I’ve missed a lot of important things to study for exams, and while I always try to convince myself that in the long run it will be worth it, I really question that sometimes.

I missed my best friend’s 21st birthday studying for my first physics exam.  Luckily, she understood, and I was able to celebrate with her later.  I missed my grandmother’s funeral studying for my second exam.  I don’t get to re-do that, and I still feel this overwhelming guilt when I think about not being there.  And now I have missed seeing our team advance to the championship game (and potentially win that championship game) attempting to study for this third exam.

It’s true that I am here at U of M to get an education.  But this year more than ever, I’ve really started to regret not being able to experience things that I wish I could.  I will never spend a semester abroad, because being pre-med doesn’t really allow for that.  I spend a lot of Friday and Saturday nights at the library.  I’ve accepted that my career of choice requires this of me, and for the most part, I am proud that I work as hard as I do.

On nights like tonight, though, I wonder.  I wonder if I’m going to be so happy with where I am in 20 years that I’ll forget about the experiences I passed up on.  I really hope so.

For now, all I can do is try to focus on these electromagnetic waves and hope that our boys in blue make us proud on Monday.  I’ll be cheering them on with my physics notes in front of me.  Go blue.

6 thoughts to “Is it going to be worth it?”

  1. Hi Melissa,

    You’re definitely not alone in this. I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately. I did get to watch the game in Ann Arbor last night- but only after 8 hours in the Dude pounding my head against our physics course pack. For me, it’s especially hard to sacrifice quintessential college moments when I don’t always feel like I’m getting out what I’m putting in. My english professor last year told us all the time “quid pro quo”… but it doesn’t always feel like that here. I’ve skipped birthdays, cool speakers, and even holidays with my family to study for exams, and been disappointed with my grade in the end. This gets so frustrating, and it hardly feels like the payoff was worth the sacrifice.

    The way that I try to reconcile this to myself, is that we are learning how to prioritize, and we are realizing that in the real world we we’ll have to make sacrifices. And maybe sometimes, the quintessential college experience is skipping the big game to study in the library. As for me, I’m trying to use my experiences to come to terms with the fact that it’s not always going to feel like I’m getting out exactly what I put in, but I should let that discourage me- I should realize it’s just a part of life.

    I think that you’re going to make a great doctor, and all this studying will pay off in the end- even if it is hard to see that now!


  2. Hey Melissa!

    While you may have doubts right now, your hardworking mentality will definitely pay off in the long run. Do you know how many people in your physics class probably just thought, “Screw it. I’m going to the bars to watch the game” last night? Most of them are probably doing worse than you too. Your determination to do well in school is admirable.

    I know this because I’ve been through the same thing. I had an incredibly hard semester last winter, and it really tested my mental stamina and emotional boundaries. Then there was MCAT studying last summer, and we all know how that goes. I cried to my mom multiple times doubting my choice of being a pre-med student at Michigan. I know how it feels when you think you’re missing out on everything while your friends are out at the bars celebrating or taking trips abroad.

    But I had already started working hard, so I remained determined to finish working hard. Yeah, I’ll admit I sacrificed a lot of Friday nights that semester, but because I was so focused back then, I am able to relax a lot more now. My semesters aren’t a piece of cake, but they are definitely a lot less stressful, and I contribute that to my hard work that paid off last year.

    So hang in there! You can definitely do it.


  3. Melissa,
    Thank you for your sacrifices. I am thankful because I feel more at ease knowing someone like you will be a doctor. I certainly do not have what it takes to be curing diseases or operating on wounds. The path to become a doctor is long and grueling. But what you’re self-questioning only seems like proof that you are fully equipped with the drive to do it. I think finding something in your college years that you can sacrifice for and invest you brain in is a beautiful thing. You’ve done good already!

  4. Hey Melissa,

    Thanks for the post. I feel the same way about my academics. I’ve had to make many social sacrifices this semester. It’s funny how you had to go home because Ann Arbor would be distracting, because for me it’s somewhat opposite. Most of my really good friends are in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham, which is about 45 minutes away, and if I head back there on the weekends, I might as well kiss any hours I might’ve spent studying good-bye. Not that Ann Arbor isn’t distracting enough as it is, but I’ve had to explain to my friends that they just have to bear with me until April 26th, which luckily isn’t too much further off. I try to find a balance, but at the end of the day, I’m only in college once, and I want to make the most of my opportunities. Some people understand perfectly when I tell them I’m at the library on a Saturday night, and others think I’m nuts, but they support me. Best of luck over the next two weeks!

  5. Deciding what’s more important in these kinds of situations is always very difficult. I often end up putting off homework or studying for a little while in order to do things which I feel are important to me, but there are other situations in which that’s just not possible. Occasionally, I’ll have an opportunity to get closer to people or experience something unique at the expense of time I could spend working. When that happens, you just have to consider what you’re losing and what you’re gaining. If you put off an essay for a little longer, but still finish it, then you should do it. If you think avoiding studying would significantly hurt your grade, then you probably should not do it.

    There’s a quote (I don’t know who said it) that advises: “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.”

    Seeing the championship game would have been soooo awesome. But basketball doesn’t really seem to be THAT important to you. I’m sure your friend’s 21st was fun, but you’ll have other chances to hang out with her. But if you failed a test, bombed a class that significantly set you back from going into the medical field then that would have been a big mistake. If you’re passionate, if you really care about what you want to do, then you have to make some sacrifices to achieve that goal. Medicine is notorious for sucking up people’s lives, but it is also incredibly fulfilling.

    We are the sum of our experiences, not the result of one or two. You will have many great times and special moments in your life – don’t sweat it if you happen to miss a few along the way.

Leave a Reply