Self development: Grit & Personal Struggles

Grit can be defined as an individual’s ability to “maintain their determination and motivation over long periods despite experiences with failure and adversity” (Wikipedia). A mentor once told me that if she could grant me any superpower in the world, she would grant grit.  4 years later, I know appreciate grit as one of the most important traits that a person can develop.

Here’s an inspiring blog post from Anne that you should check out to highlight the importance of grit during the medical school application process:

I am always positive in my blog posts becauseI want to promote positivity rather than negativity. I try to be grateful and optimistic as much as possible but I do struggle and lack confidence in myself. Recently, I’ve been working to overcome the trap of comparing myself with others and falling into “not good enough” trap. Coming with a cultural background that values humility and self-deprecation, I (and likely others from the same background) easily admire the work ethic and talents of others and aspire to develop the same abilities. It’s  fantastic to aspire to the same high standards and to realize what areas need improvement. But, it’s important to be aware that we may be comparing our abilities while we are in midway through the journey of life to someone’s abilities while they are further along in the journey.

Specifically, I’ve been frustrated at myself for not being an eloquent enough speaker. I have been reaching out to numerous mentors that I am very grateful towards. The way that my mentors speak is so much more confident and contains ideas that are so brilliant.  I’ve caught myself thinking, “My answer was terrible because my answer was missing that point”.  Such a thought made me less confident the next time I talked, which is the opposite of what I wanted to become.

I am grateful to have met with a mentor yesterday who was also a younger applicant. She reminded me that I’ve become 20 recently but I’m comparing myself to individuals 10 years or more older than I am.  These individuals have had more years to live and experience more situations. If they are health care providers that speaks with many patients everyday, their speaking skills obviously are much more developed because  they’ve  been sharpening their skills for years . Her advice changed my mindset.

Yes, I still have a lot of room for improvement. Yes, I definitely am trying to learn from them and improve. But rather than over-compare, I have make sure that I’m staying in the healthy levels of comparison (“I like how they structured their answer in a way that I didn’t and so I’ll try to incorporate that to improve my own answer”). From now onward, I will work hard to improve my skills while maintaining a positive mindset.

The take-away message is: Whatever you are struggling with, remember to step back and check if your self-talk is helpful or not. You are smart, hard-working and motivated. You will be able to achieve your goal if you put in the right amount of effort and time.

If you want to read another person’s perspective on struggles, Tiffany at SecondHand inspiration wrote a heartfelt post about realizing that not being amazing at something right away is totally okay. Check it out here:

Best of luck,


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