Balancing success and meaning

I have always put a lot of pressure on myself. I remember being in fifth grade and getting a 95% on a math quiz and feeling so ashamed. I knew the answer to that one question: why was I too dumb to do it right? I eventually skipped that grade, but still never believed I had what it would take to succeed. I always wanted to do better and my only way of motivating myself was to tell myself that I wasn’t good enough. Then in high school, six people in my life died, two being my friends who were my age. Nothing seemed to matter as much. Success did not matter anymore, because life is not guaranteed. Why should I work so hard and care so much if it can all be taken from me in an instant? Now I struggle between these two mindsets: where I want to be the best I can be, but find everything to be quite meaningless in the end. I took steps to work on this through volunteerism and seeing a therapist. I need to get involved in projects that benefit people other than myself. I try to be active in various student groups and advocate for the underserved. The more involved I am, the less meaningless I feel. Even if it is all taken away in an instant, at least I can say I used the time I had to better my sphere of influence in some way. I also am a huge believer in therapy, because it gives you time to process your experiences.

Talk about it so you can find the source of what is affecting you. Find other ways to motivate yourself than putting yourself down. Share experiences with others. Find a therapist that you like to see and get involved in activities that inspire you.
— Brown Medical Student, '18