When I first started medical school, I was single. And that was exactly how I wanted to start this new process in my life. I had a boyfriend for mostly all of my early undergrad years and looking back, I sort of regretted that. Undergrad was about freedom, discovering yourself and finding your niche in this microcosm of a world. For me, it was hard to do that when I was attached to someone, and I found myself spending too many nights in with my boyfriend when I should have been out making new friends. So in medical school, I wanted to branch out. I wanted a completely new start and to embrace that feeling of freedom that comes with starting a new chapter in your life.
The problem was, med school’s not really about freedom. In fact, I found that it is the complete opposite feeling. Med school is about how best you can fit into the top percentile of the class, how hard you can force yourself to not get sidelined by outside distractors and how successful you are at self-introspection in order to improve your knowledge. Of course, I don’t mean to make med school sound like this dark place of self involvement… but from my experience, you do have to spend a lot of time thinking about yourself.
This makes med school a very lonely place, especially if you are single and don’t have that person to keep you company during those long nights of studying. Part of the time I am happy I am single and have the time to focus on studying. I never have to feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my significant other. I make my schedule on my own terms and don’t have to factor in the schedule of another person. But most of the time, when I come home from a tiring day or a stressful test, it’d be nice to have someone there for emotional support. At the end of the day I am always surprised at how alone I feel because I consider myself a very independent person. A friend once told me, “you shouldn’t let being single stop you from doing things you want to do” and these are pretty much words I live by. But for some reason, I feel that being in medical school has highlighted my single-ness. Maybe it’s because when I go out with my friends from school they bring their husbands or boyfriends and I feel like I have to justify being solo by saying, “I’m still young though”. Or maybe it’s that being in professional school makes the prospect of dating so much more stressful. When will I have time to go out on dates? Who will date me if I have to block out time for studying every 2 weeks? And actually, is being a med student intimidating for guys not in med school? I never had to think about these things before med school and I if I were in a different profession, I’d probably be less concerned about being single.
btw, if you think the dating pool shrinks as you get older, just come to med school to see the smallest puddle of your life. Since most of med school classes are filled with students in the mid-upper 20’s, many are married or seeing someone seriously. Others have paired up by second year and the rest are left wondering, where are all the McDreamy’s of med school?
For now, I’m just focusing on boards studying and hoping that starting clinicals will bring a new pool of single datable men, though I’m more inclined to say that even more doctors will be married by then. sigh, #medschoolprolems.