The musings of a final year medical student

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Stop putting yourself down

I am realising more and more that sadly, as humans we are conditioned to not to like ourselves. Is this part of our DNA or due to the society that we've created for ourselves? I wish I knew. 

Regardless of the reason why we are all to some extent self-deprecating, I think it's something we need to address. I started my new Twitter account, @TheMedicJournal, and whilst it's a very small account, one of my tweets got some attention. The mental health charity, Mind, started a conversation about the one thing you'd tell a stranger about yourself under the hashtag #DearStranger.

Clearly a lot of people feel the need to be perfect, or the most perfect version of themselves. What is perfect? To me, it's according to what society defines as a successful person: great career, slim physique, expensive car, big house, perfect partner and fabulous friends. The perfect person doesn't oversleep and stumble into work with no makeup on and greasy hair; perfect people aren't meant to have duvet days eating Nutella out of the jar. But what is wrong with that? What is wrong with being human? Particularly when nobody is immune from these so-called 'flaws'. Why is it so hard to accept that we can't do everything in an orderly and civilised way? We're not robots and we shouldn't aspire to be like them, either.

I definitely ask too much of myself, as do most people. The other day, I had one of those days where everything goes wrong and after an achingly long day of holding it all together on the surface, one little comment scuppers that façade - the floodgates had opened. I really thought that I hated myself at that point, I wasn't even crying about anything in particular, just that I felt like a failure. My mum was very nice about it and reminded me of my previous academic and extra-curricular achievements, and it was the first time that I actually recognised that I had achieved them. When I was doing those tests, I just got on with it, not taking any perspective or giving myself credit just for trying. But at the same time, I feel strongly that those pieces of paper with my exam results don't mean anything. Sure, they're helping me to further my career which will shape my life, but we as people do not have to be defined by our achievements. You don't need to have a single grade to your name to be a decent person. You don't have to be clever to love your job. You don't have to be any specific dress size to be loved. You can't buy real friendship. 

Being perfect is not the epitome of self-fulfilment, and we need to remember that. 

P.S all I've done today is watch Netflix in bed and play Débussy on the piano, and I'm totally okay with that because I'm not a machine 


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