Battling Seasonal Depression and Imposter Syndrome as a Pre-Medical Student

The past few weeks I’ve been coming across a lot of TikTok videos made by current medical students and residents looking back at their undergraduate years. They claim to be amazed by the fact that despite all their worries and doubts, they made it through.

Jacklyn Tsung | Senior Graphic Artist

As an undergraduate still trying to salvage her organic chemistry grade and worrying about her next research opportunity, these TikToks are sometimes endearing, but also even more worrisome, as I start to wonder whether those who made it are simply better than I am, or going through school at a less competitive time.  

As the end of the semester creeps up on us, the excitement for a break is replaced by a fear of completing all classes with good grades. The weekends stop being centered on fun activities, and rather on much-needed rest that still doesn’t rejuvenate us by Monday morning. Looking out into the dark at 4:00 p.m. draws anxiety and makes the night feel long and lonely. 

The breeze annoyingly freezes our faces and fingers and leaves our hair in a messy nest. It’s almost as if the universe can sense how tired we are, how desperate we are for a break and decides to test us further by making everything a little harder. 

If you’d asked me a couple of weeks ago how I felt about home, I would’ve told you I don’t even miss it. But the last few days all I can think about is how much I regret not buying a ticket home for Thanksgiving. 

But we can’t just sit here and pity ourselves — treating this wonderful life as a miserable survival attempt. I’ve learned to take a few minutes for myself that are incorporated into my busy schedule instead of becoming an added compartment. 

Music has a great influence on my mood, so blasting some of my favorite songs during my daily walks through Bay State road helps calm me down and up my mood. 

So, as long as we still have a couple of sunny hours in sight — and the cold isn’t too unbearable — it might be a good idea to go work outside, or at least take a calm stroll. 

When I moved here, a lot of people suggested I invest in a sunlight lamp for my room to stimulate some of that California sunshine I’d be missing. I definitely will be taking their advice in a couple of weeks when sitting outside becomes impossible for me. 

It’s also important to keep eating and exercising right. And staying alive off of chips and protein hours will do no good. Make sure to get at least one nutritious meal every day and incorporate some movement — again, walking itself is a great option. 

If you ever get a chance to leave campus for a couple of hours, take the opportunity to explore the city. It can be easy to get warped into campus and rarely ever leave. But there’s so much to do outside and the little bits of variety will go a long way in brightening the days. 

As for school — the biggest woe — I won’t lie, the future seems just as bleak to me as it may for some of you. But the way I see it, if this many people have managed to make it through, we will too. After all, we probably were nervous about getting into college once upon a time, and look at us now. It’s important to remember that grades don’t define us and that there are so many different ways to achieve success. So, even if we have to fall off our blueprint, it’s all going to work out in the end. 

Here’s to graduation day.

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