Before you start yelling ‘in other news, pigs can fly!’ allow me to explain my story. Yes, I know that med school is incredibly stressful and draining, it is almost tantamount to going through hell and back and the incredible workload really sucks out the joy from one’s life. The constant pressure, deadlines and long work hours leave behind hardly any time to socialize, let alone date. Trust me, if I can make it out of med school with both a degree and a wife, then so can you! Here are 4 hard-earned lessons that I will be sharing with you that I applied which helped me not only greatly improve my dating life but also tie the knot with the love of my life.
1. Work on your relationship with yourself first!
I can not possibly overemphasize the fact that more often than not, people rely on love from another person whilst simultaneously being deeply resentful of themselves. I know it might sound cringe-worthy to ‘love yourself first’ or ‘you can’t love others unless you love yourself’ but the fact of the matter is that no matter how cliche those lines might be, their underlying message holds true. No matter if you are on the lookout for a relationship or not, prioritize your mental health first. Take time out for yourself and reflect upon your unresolved inner conflicts and/or latent emotions. Mindful meditation works wonders in this regard! You have to know yourself before you set out to know potential partners because if that becomes the case, you wouldn’t even know what you want in a future partner. If the self-reflection and emotional management becomes too overwhelming, do not shy away from seeking the help of a therapist, that’s exactly what they are here for! Once I made peace with who I was as a person and accepted myself for all that I was and all that I was not, I started viewing fellow humans very differently and that perspective shift made it a lot easier for me to actually connect with people and have meaningful conversations.
2. Physical exercise does wonders for you.
Okay, I will spare you an excerpt from Men’s Fitness and be real with you. No matter how hard you try to avoid the dreaded ‘e word’, you need it. Instead of reiterating old stories to you, I will tell you exactly what my personal experience was: When I started med school, I was so overwhelmed by the study hours and college demands, that I completely gave up working out. The exam stress got to me and by the time I was done with my annuals, I had gained over 10kg of body fat, taking my BMI close to 30! Not going to lie, my life was a mess. My sleep schedule was disoriented, my energy levels were at their lowest and my self-esteem had taken a huge hit since I could not fit into any of my favorite clothes. This was exactly the moment when I promised myself that no matter how busy I got with my studies, I would still keep at least 30 minutes every day for physical exercise, be it cardio or weight training. Staying true to my promise, 6 months later and voilà! A much healthier me with a BMI of 22, fixed sleeping pattern and with unprecedented energy and confidence levels was making all the heads turn. The short yet daily workouts not only gave endorphin rushes on a regular basis but they also greatly boosted my self-image and overall health. Words can not do justice to how it felt when socializing wasn’t a nightmare anymore and people actually had an interest in entertaining a confident me.
3. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people.
You do not have to be the most loquacious guy out there or the class clown, but you should at least make sure that people view you as someone they would be comfortable talking to. And how do you do that? By getting out of your room/couch/library and going out in the open in the real tangible world. Yes, I know that social media exists and yes there is Tinder for easy hook-ups but the virtual realm can never serve as a substitute for actual physical encounters. Join societies that your university has to offer, go to the party that everyone has been talking about, and most importantly, go say hi to that one person that you have been thinking about. The problem that I have seen often manifest in med students is that since they are so time-tied, they make little to no time for gatherings, meet-ups and other social interactions whilst somehow believing that ‘love will come find them’ when they are in their PJs completing an assignment. Get out of your comfort bubble and start having actual conversations with people that intrigue you. When I got over my initial fear of being dismissed and started talking to people who caught my interest, I was amazed to see the results. This little habit of striking up conversations with people that I met paved the way for great friendships and also opened the door for meeting my wife. When I saw her reading a book that I really liked, I knew that I had to talk to her about it or else I would lose that moment.
4. Always choose meaningful conversations over small talk.
To set the record straight, this piece of advice doesn’t mean that you stop greeting people, sending your regards or stop talking about the weather with the kind old man that you meet on the campus, but it rather means that when you are genuinely interested in someone, choose the quality of the conversation over the quantity. Being a med student does not afford you a lot of time and you can not text someone 24/7 whilst simultaneously balancing your academics. What you can do is that when you make time to meet that one person over coffee on the weekend, try to actually know them. Don’t just ask them about their favorite books/songs/movies/tv-shows but dig a little deeper and ask why that is the case, go into the ‘whys’ of everything to understand them better: their happiest memory, their proudest achievement, their greatest strength and the likes. Having such meaningful discourse will not only acquaint you a lot better with the person that you are interested in but it will also let the other person know that you are not the regular superficial person. Talking to the girl that I liked about her favorite books and why she ranked them as her favorites opened up a whole new dimension of her personality which allowed me to understand how she thought and processed emotions and ideas. Getting to know someone on this level is much more profound than making small talk and acting cute (not that they’re not important) especially when you are out looking for love.
With this, my service comes to an end. Keep in mind that these are not just ‘quotes’ and ‘tricks’ taken off the internet, these are the core lessons that helped me on a personal level to actually understand myself and those around me, with the end result being me finding love. These pieces of advice are by no means exhaustive and/or absolutist since every human being is unique and has their own way of perceiving things but these are what actually worked for me and afforded me happiness. So do try implementing them if you can and send a prayer my way if they work (which they will ;))!