christine heidi

Academic Envy

CHRISTINE HEIDI

CHRISTINE HEIDI

Christine is a first-year Ivy League medical student who is interested in narrative medicine and journalism. She also enjoys playing music, baking, and running in her free time.

Many pre-meds might be able to identify with this feeling: Your friend comes up to you and says, “I just won a scholarship!” or “My paper is going to be published!” You congratulate your friend, and you feel excited for them—on some level. But on another level, you can’t hold back this other awful feeling of academic envy. You wonder: What about me? Why can’t I do something like that too?

Envy as a pre-med—or a med student, or really at any point in your life—is a normal feeling to have. In competitive or high-achieving environments, it often feels like you have to do better or at least keep up with everyone around you. When someone else achieves something, you might feel jealous, maybe even resentful, maybe even fearful that you won’t be able to achieve the same level of accomplishment or success, however you define that.

Here are some ways to counter the feeling of envy:

Remind yourself that no one’s life is perfect

It can be easy to think that someone else has what you want, and to jump to feeling envious of that person. But the truth is, everyone has their own struggles. Those struggles may not be as visible as the accomplishments and successes, but they exist too—no one has everything completely figured out.

Keep your eyes in your own lane

What other people are doing does not truly affect you: your life is your own. You face unique challenges, and you have your own talents and resources, making it impossible to compare with others how “successful” you are or how well you’ve used your resources. Do the best with what you have, instead of measuring yourself against others. Like a swimmer in a race who’s constantly glancing to see who’s around her, you’ll only bring yourself down by using others as markers for what to do.

Recognize that success is not an expendable resource

Just because one person succeeds doesn’t mean that others have to fail (although the stresses of grades can sometimes make it seem otherwise). Still, there are many different types of success, and rather than bringing each other down, our successes can in fact encourage and build upon one another.

Remind yourself that no one is evaluating your life

Sometimes it may feel like the spotlight is on you, and everyone is watching what you’re doing and judging you. To put it bluntly: no one really cares. Other people are living their own lives, dealing with their own issues and challenges. They’re spending the vast majority of their time thinking about themselves rather than about you. So do what it takes to make yourself proud and happy, not what you think other people expect out of you.

Prioritize real connections

In these kinds of competitive scenarios and environments, it’s easy to reduce other people to just seeing their outside traits and accomplishments. This kind of envious mindset only contributes to an unhealthy environment. To counter that, try to see people for who they really are—unique individuals who have accomplished certain things, but also have their own struggles. Prioritize making real connections and getting to know the people around you, on an honest and more personal level.

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