a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Thursday, April 13, 2006
  I think, I think
I think I’m honest enough with myself to realize that my decision to delay the exam is also a result of my own terrible study habits and my terribly low stamina for studying. 8-9 hours a day would be a very good day for me. Unfortunately, they have not been very common these last few months. There are also days when I just can’t bring myself to study at all. I make up some excuse and tell myself I can’t study much today, or if I don’t have an excuse, I promise myself that ‘from tomorrow’ I’ll be a new man; that I’ll change.

For quite a long time, I’ve externalized my shortcomings. Yes, I thought I was a horrible person for not reaching the goals I had set for myself. Yes, I was evil, and useless, and lazy, and unreliable. However I always thought that if circumstances had been different, then maybe I might be different too. If I had gone to a better college, I would be motivated to work harder. If I had friends for support (when I was in Peshawar), if this happened or if that was possible. However, the motivation to excel should be independent of external circumstances. My life might be crap, but that doesn’t mean I should wait till it gets better to have the will to work my ass off. I kept blaming my lack of motivation on external factors and although I hated myself for never working hard enough, at the back of my mind, I always had an ‘excuse’.

My younger brother, who is an academic giant, spent one year at home. He had finished his A-levels and taken his SATs and wanted to apply to universities in the US. He had the grades required to get a scholarship. Indeed, he had a full scholarship from LUMS which he turned down so that he can redo his SATs and score amazingly in them. For one year, he was stuck at home, with no friends to call on, no social life to speak of, just studying for his SATs, and learning C+. I thought it was a terribly depressing way to live one’s life, but he persisted and scored a 1540 in his SAT I (to his immense disappointment, as he was aiming for a 1600). He didn’t get a full scholarship to any of the Ivy League schools in the US, so the next year he won the LUMS scholarship again and went to Lahore, where he excelled there. This January, he started working in Microsoft.

If I was stuck at home (not a very pleasant prospect, believe me) I would feel depressed and sorry for myself. I’d moan about what a miserable life I had and that depression would definitely impact on my studies. Rather than make the most of the situation, I’d look at all the negatives and let that bog me down.

Recently I’ve come to realize that I’ve got some really bad habits. I also realize I’ve really got to stop externalizing my problems. If I think that a place or a situation is somehow ‘draining’ me of the motivation and discipline I need to study, I’ve got a big problem right there. I’ve also believed in the past that if I was always regular in my prayers, in reading the Quran, etc… that this would give me the ‘center’ and balance I needed to discipline myself in studies. This too is another way if externalizing the problem. I shouldn’t rely on God to change me, or help me change. I have to make my own decisions in life and I can’t pray hard and long, asking God to do things for me. This again, was an externalization of the problem. I was not relying on my inner faculties to overcome my study problems. I was not relying on my own sense of discipline and work ethic, I was relying on prayer to make me all better again on the inside, and that in turn would then help me in my studies.

The source of my study problems lie within me, not in the outside world. I’ve got to change my own way of thinking and looking at my world, and not try to change my world. If I’m not studying right, I’ve got to look no further than myself to get to the root of the problem. Its not just study problems that result from my tendency to externalize my problems- it’s just that study problems are the most obvious manifestation of this weakness of mine. I’ve got massive flaws in my personality. I’ve done things I’m not proud of, and I never seem to want to look into myself for the answers. It’s always the environment I’m in thats at fault. If only circumstances were different…

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to solve this dilemma of mine. For too long now, I’ve been plagued by the insecurity that comes with unfulfilled potential. I know I have it in me to reach for the stars. No matter how badly I’ve done in the past and how much I’ve disappointed myself, I never doubted my God-given ability. If I don’t do well in life and don’t achieve my goals, it will be because I didn’t fight to overcome these bad habits of mine, always blaming my environment for my grades rather than looking for the cause in myself.

The first step to redrawing my inner circuitry is recognizing the problem. I hope this post is one step forward in what will undoubtedly be a long journey. I also hope it isn’t followed by two steps backwards later on.
have you published something till now?? I mean something revolutionary?
Yes I have - although it's not medical research although medically-related. It was revolutionary and a solo effort.
amazing, which jorunal it got published in and in which stage of MBBS was it done?
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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