Dealing with naysayers (or later, poo-pooers)

Hi gang!

I have been trying to think of something to post for a long time, and now I have it. How do you all deal with those people who are bent on discouraging you?

I am 33-years-old, BA and MA in Literature, in the middle of pre-reqs, but I haven’t told very many of my friends WHY I’m back in school because one of the few that I did tell went on to lecture me for about 15 minutes about all of the reasons she didn’t go to med school when we finished undergrad. (She was a pre-med bio major, now working as a biochemist and she doesn’t like her job).

Now, I know that part of this is just dumping because she’s unhappy with her own career choices and kind of afraid to change. but I’m so sensitive and I have enough of my own doubts without dealing with other people trying to reinforce them. How do you all deal with those inevitable negative people?


Just be firm and state that this is the direction that you are taking in order to achieve your goals and validate your life. No true friend would ever be negative to you if they understand that this is what you want.

Surround yourself with good people who will encourage you and help you remember why you chose this path. I’m fortunate enough to have an older brother who is in Med 1 right now at the age of 32. A friend of mine who is the same age as me (27) is starting his pre-reqs next quarter with me. Keep in touch with the people on this board. These are the type of people who understand you and who will keep you motivated.

Greetings all…

Reports of my demise have been generally accurate! Residency is bloody MURDER… you come in early… and STAY (thus the name ‘resident’). However, I LOVE every single MINUTE; so far an odd amalgam of “thrilling terror” while at the same time fulfilling in ways I still do not completely understand!

Today we start residency month four, I have ONLY 44 more months to go! The first day in the ICU and of course the first call as well, I just finished admitting TWO NSTEMI’s, within about 20 minutes of each other; both are all lined out with ACS protocols and appointments for cardiac cath lab all ‘round in the morning. I also have an urosepsis with multi-organ failure on the vent (he is actually doing much better).

As to the purpose of this post:

Ignore them…

NO REALLY, don’t even associate with people like that… is there a policy or rule where you are that obligates you to disclose your deepest passions for others to kibitz, grouse and ultimately approve… or not?

When, I decided to “go for broke” back in 2000, the only person(s) on the planet who shared my vision was my wife and family.

Indeed, even when I went over the plan to myself, it was pretty outlandish, (at the time) 38, married 16 years, father of 6… and about as likely as sprouting horns, but nothing ventured nothing gained!

Looking retrospectively (I ignored it at the time), it would be interesting to see just how tall the odds really are… how many high school kids enroll as freshmen in college in “Pre-Med” actually go the distance. I can anecdotally note the numbers are probably not good, (much less someone at my station).

After all I did not blame the official “Pre-Health Professions” advisor who “suggested” “Health Admin”… more than three times, despite being firmly, but gently informed “no thanks” (I had just LEFT a six figure “Admin” job which I hated) as “possibly” being “more appropriate” (read attainable).

He was only “trying to help” and he could not have possibly understood “my stuff” on the inside. I certainly though the best of his intentions… I fired him anyway and found a semi retired professor who DID get it, saw it and felt it…

Indeed, when I sat down and wrote out “the plan” (remember I am an advocate for a solid written plan), it did seem far fetched and indeed laughable at the time, I DID laugh! It was then when I decided exactly HOW I was going to attack this obstacle.

I resolved than MY “stuff” was fundamentally different than all the other boys and girls. I realized that just the opportunity to TRY was… a great and precious gift, a chance of a lifetime, given me by my wife and family.

Who cares what anyone else thinks (note my philosophy on “pre-med clubs” for the same reasons)? I was unwilling then (as well as now) to allow the N_T BUSTERS of the world to even have so much as a peek at “my stuff”. People are welcome to join hands and share the trip, but never access to my “stuff”.

So, I simply did not mention the ultimate goal, when asked I simply responded (truthfully), “I am thrilled to be here, I have always wanted dreamed of attending KU, and I dig biology; but win lose or draw I am having the time of my life.” I enjoyed and encouraged my colleagues and set out to capture the FUN of the TRIP.

It is interesting the closer I got to medical school, as the chaff fell away, I began to discover more and more other folks with the same sort of “stuff” I had. THESE people uplift each other as matter of course… we graduated together as a matter of fact. It is interesting how much more logical even inevitable your plan becomes as you go. In fact, most people thought it odds on once I got the acceptance letter.

Since many people for whatever reason will find a reason for discouragement (they may have meant to do so or not), you would be wise not to even seek their affirmation.

Indeed, because this whole business requires the a perfect 100% commitment with no more guarantees than faith in yourself and your family, it is a little troubling that you would begin to question your goals based on input of anyone else?

It is actually a little more fun to do this on the QT… As I gained confidence and began “spanking” the “profilers” in the classroom and observed them one by one fall off, whereas MY vision and faith shined on… “I know something you don’t know”.

Thank you

RobertB said: “I resolved than MY “stuff” was fundamentally different than all the other boys and girls. I realized that just the opportunity to TRY was… a great and precious gift, a chance of a lifetime, given me by my wife and family.”

Hi Nebula,

I have learned that people will always have something to say about something you say or do. The beauty of that is that it is only THEIR opinion. In my experience nay-sayers are usually people who are not content with the choices they have made in life and wish in whole or part that they would have made different choices- preferably the ones you are now making.

I’ve also learned that I have different friends for different reasons. I can’t share all of my accomplishments with all of my friends but I share what I can with whom I can. Don’t let her negativatity discourage you. If you lose confidence in yourself, you’ve lost a lot and at this stage of the game, you can’t afford to second guess yourself. Just stay positive and share these accomplishments with people that can appreicate it. Hopefully your friend or anyone else will work out their source of bitterness.

Good Luck,



ajajenna’s comment is so perceptive and accurate:

“I’ve also learned that I have different friends for different reasons. I can’t share all of my accomplishments with all of my friends but I share what I can with whom I can.”

I’ve found that I have many friends and family who love me and want to support me, but I tend to be sensitive so I have to keep some things to myself and only let them out slowly over time as I gain confidence and success to offset their comments. I know it can be hard, but when you are with people you know will likely respond in that way, try to keep the conversation away from school and your plans. Its important to be able to talk about it, so just talk about it with the one or two you know you can count on to be patient and listen to you even though you may be wearing the subject a little thin with them. :slight_smile: The time will come when you can share with the rest and they can rejoice with you.

A big “amen” to Richard B too.

Thank God for this forum. Really. It’s so helpful to know that so many others of you have similar struggles. A few things I want to share.

It seems to me that the naysayers have more impact at the begininning of the journey, feeding on your insecurities and fledgling hopes. About six months ago I was really shaken by the negativity I had heard from other mothers, and started questioning my choices. Friends on this forum reminded me to stay focused and tune out the negativity, and it helped.

My struggle lately has been how to deal with some of the younger students with grace. I lack grace. When they say things like, “Our generation doesn’t read text books,” when explaining why they haven’t read the chapter. When they doze off in class. And there’s an undercurrent of schadenfreude (sp?) in which some people might not take joy in your success, but appear to be relieved when you falter or fail. They are naysayers of a sort, perhaps resenting my presence and focus. There are times in class when I wonder what on earth I am doing there with these young people.

But there are also some great students, study partners, fellow travelers, and a very kind advisor, and I’m trying to tune into them as we make it through each test, each lab, preparing for the MCAT, etc.

My parents, close friends, and the people who really care about me…they didn’t doubt my desire to go to med school when I had the courage to let the cat out of the bag. We try on lots of different hats in our lives, walk around in them for awhile, and change them if they don’t feel right. Those who care about me see what I see, that as crazy as it may look at times, I have finally put on the right hat. Does that make any sense? My loved ones are more important than the naysayers.

PS Great work, Richard. I’m in your fan club and am so glad that you’re enjoying your residency. I want to be you when I grow up.

Thanks for the post. I just joined as I’m thinking of going to med school at age 43. Need the pre-med classes still. I have very few positive people in my life. Sometimes I guess you just have to cut those that make judgments out of your life for awhile. Congradulations to you!