Operation Get Gritty: How I'm Getting Ready for my First Year of Medical School (& Life)

It’s only been a few months since I wrote my last post but here I am writing this one from a new couch, in a new crib, on a new block. I’ve got a serious case of the sniffles but I refuse to admit that it might be because I’ve been sleeping with wet hair near a fully #turntup AC. My mom would kill me.

I’m just about a week from pre-orientation and 2 weeks from White Coat Ceremony. I am excited, I am ready, and I am SHOOK.

All summer I’ve been (in a very low-key sort of way) working on getting my mind right for medical school. Call it extreme if that’s how you feel…. but the first-generation low-income Latina in me was not going to leave my success up to chance. I haven’t been pre-maturely studying for Step 1 or trying to get a head start on anatomy (although I’m jealous if you did), but I’ve been mindful. Mindful of my sleep, mindful of my stress, mindful of my routines, mindful of my mindset.

Today I thought I’d share with some of my favorite people (you guys, hello) how I’ve spent an itty bitty portion of my summer preparing for MS1. In my head (and to Shaun) I’ve been calling the sum of these 5 things OPERATION GET GRITTY because I wrote them down with every intention of using these habits to become the grittiest, happiest, and most bada$$-y version of myself. So far so good, but if you’d like a more detailed review of my efforts and what habits stick with me during MS1 be sure to let me know in a comment so I can share all the deets with you in a future blog post.

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#OPGETGRITTY

(1) Read/listen/talk for self-improvement… every day.

I don’t know why self-help books get such a bad rep. I’ve read my fair share of lackluster BELIEVE AND YOU WILL ACHIEVE soliloquies but I’ve never been one to let a bad banana ruin the bunch. I’m super passionate about self-improvement— becoming a better person, a better student, a better partner, a better friend— and I’m not ashamed to admit it. If you want to get gritty, be bolder, and live your best life you have to have to HAVE TO invest in yourself every single day. There is a world of difference between wanting to be perfect and wanting to be better.

I started this summer with an explicit goal of building better habits, establishing a productive routine, and increasing my mental toughness (#nerddddd) and although each book had its “shortcomings” The Compound EffectGrit, and Can’t Hurt Me were all full of gems. When I don’t have my nose in a book I like to listen to The Press Send podcast for a little chatty-and-wise girl-boss talk, The Daily for important current events, or The Health Code for all things #healthspo, #hustlespo, and positivity. Finally, LISTEN UP BECAUSE THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT. Talking for self-improvement has been a critical addition to my days and weeks. Every so often Shaun and I will schedule a check-in chat to get some honest feedback and advice on our goals. Think accountability buddy 2.0 because I can always count on Shaun for some tough (but encouraging) love. Regular check-in chats are key. Who’s your person?

(2) Mindfully build habits into your mornings and nights.

This one (for me) is grounded in a deep desire to accomplish two things: (1) to make more of my early AMs and (2) to increase the quality of my rest because I know that both will be critical to my success in med school. I’m sure there are some of you that scoff at the idea of doing the same thing every morning but I have always identified as a creature of habit. If I’m not building good habits to start my day then I’m almost certainly practicing bad ones *insert endless Instagram scroll*. For at least a year I’ve been super aware of my need to cut the crap and do something different... and year 1’s rapid approach has given me the sense of urgency I needed to actually try things out. My routines are still a work-in-progress but I’m currently experimenting with journaling, meditation, prayer, stretching, screen-free coffee/tea time, regular exercise, yoga, skin care, affirmations, to do lists, and a daily goal review (to name quite a few). If you’re in the process of creating or modifying your own morning or nighttime routines (or if you’ve found something that works for ya) let me know in a comment. I’d love to give it a try (and I really need help with this one)!

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(3) Actively combat procrastination.

I don’t know exactly when I developed this habit but it certainly didn’t serve my GPA sophomore year. Yikes. Thankfully, I’m fully aware that there won’t be any time for that in medical school so I’ve made an (imperfect) point of challenging the devil on my shoulder trying to convince me to delay submitting my medical clearance. Unsurprisingly, the little things have added up in big ways. In my personal life I’ve taken advantage of some time-sensitive opportunities, started the YouTube channel I’ve been talking about with my friends, and have been consistently paying my rent a few days early for the last couple of months (#smallwins). As for medical school, I’ve read through my pre-orientation materials, ordered my summer reading, and completed the 3 online trainings I needed to get done before I was allowed to enroll. Thank you Jesus. Classes aren’t in session just yet, but I’m praying that my efforts will pay off when it gets real. If you’re struggling with procrastination, I’d highly suggest you start today RIGHT NOW with the to-do list item you’ve migrated for months. Guilty as charged.

(4) Do one “hard thing”.

I wish I could take all of the credit for this one but this rule’s inception comes straight out of Angela Duckworth’s Grit. I won’t say much more about that because she certainly says it better in her book so I’ll just skip ahead and tell you that my hard thing at the moment is the one thing I hate to do more than anything in the world because I’ve never been able to actually do it: pull-ups. What’s your hard thing? It doesn’t have to be a physical challenge but it does have to be something that requires some serious effort on your part. Then join me in doing it every day for a month. I’ve convinced myself that if I can force myself to do pull-ups after every workout, I can develop the mental toughness of…. I don’t know… someone super tough. And so can you.

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 (5) Pick yourself up and try again.

This one’s going to require you to re-attempt something you’ve failed at or given up on. But don’t get it twisted. This might look like just another “hard thing” but it’s actually a little bit different because it isn’t about doing something you find straight up difficult; it’s about doing something you’ve found difficult to commit to. I don’t feel strongly about doing pull-ups (my “hard thing”) but I do love the idea of connecting with more people via Mez On The Move and improving my Spanish. Despite my best intentions, I’ve struggled to commit to both.

Remember when you told yourself you’d spend more time writing short stories? Or when you said you’d paint every night before bed so that you could finally open that side hustle Etsy shop of your dreams? Here’s your chance… and I don’t want you to waste any time or energy feeling bad about not getting around to the thing you planned to get around to last April. I like to think that this fifth rule will help me, and you, and whoever you share this with, uproot the last little bit of self-doubt that gets us down: our perception of our own lack of follow-through. That energy doesn’t serve anyone; I’m certain of it. So the final thing I’m doing to get ready for medical school (and life) is getting out of my own way. And instead of pretending that I didn’t completely fail at my goal, I’m just going to go ahead and restart right now.

Get gritty with me.  

P.S. Go check out my first YouTube video. Like and subscribe if that floats your boat. It would mean the world to me. All love always xx Mez

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Photos by Carolina Portilho Montoni

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