Optometry school isn’t easy. Everyone goes in fully aware that they will be tested to their fullest extent mentally, physically, and emotionally. The lack of sleep, the overload of exams, the inability to maintain a social life, the hours of studying, the failures, the little time dedicated to taking care of oneself, etc. Yet, students still persevere and come out on top.
We know going in what we are getting ourselves into. We still get hit with some curveballs here and there, but for the most part, we are ready to take on the challenge. It is when real life events hit during our time as an optometry student that the real tribulation begins. Experiencing a death in the family or other tragedy as a graduate student is truly heartbreaking and “takes the life out of you.”
Without any life setbacks, optometry school barely allows you time to breathe. You decide to relax for a day and take time to yourself and now you are behind eight chapters and three new clinical skills. So when we face a personal hardship, it can truly be detrimental. You might feel as if there is no time to even feel grief, or sadness, or pain because doing so would put you behind in your studies. When your mind is in another place, it can be very difficult to study, take an exam, or even practice a clinical skill.
Optometry students are smart, intelligent, caring, and compassionate individuals. They have worked hard to make it to the position they are at and continue to work hard to succeed in their path. But keep in mind they are not robots. They still feel that same pain and suffering another would, but they also feel a guilt if they are spending time sulking instead of studying. Life happens, and we need to remind ourselves that it is okay to feel all those emotions. It is natural to be sad and experience grief. That is the only way to overcome it is by addressing it instead of trying to ignore it to maintain that “perfect student” persona.
To all the graduate students out there: do not lose yourself while going through school. Work hard and do your best, but allow yourself that time when you need it. It’s okay to score lower on an exam because you needed a day to think. It is okay to miss an exam review because you felt so mentally drained or sad. School is not what defines you, school is a tool to get you to the goal you have dreamed of and worked so hard for.
Trust yourself, take time for yourself, and remember that you are still a person. You matter, your feelings matter, your opinions matter, so never neglect that. You and your well-being come first, always!