Need advice on encouragement

Hey guys…haven’t posted in awhile, I can’t even express how busy I’ve been doing 14 units this semester, blah.
Anyways, I have an interesting situation that’s come up, and I’m kinda looking for guidance on it. Basically, I met the girl who I’m probably going to end up with, and she’s basically a clone of me, and I wanted to test that theory on academics, and sure enough it turns out she has wanted to go into medicine since she was little. The only problem is that her mom has put her down her entire life and told her she couldn’t do it, so she has very low self-esteem. I don’t really think she should hold herself back though if that’s what she wants to do…does anyone have any advice on how I should try to encourage her or whether I should? She’s extremely smart, did three years at a private university for journalism (stopped because she got disgusted with how much the media lies), so I know she can do it. I just don’t know how to get her to know she can.

It’s hard for someone to change their outlook on things, especially if they’ve been browbeaten for a long time. As her friend, be sure to point out all the awesome things she does, especially toward her dream of being a doctor. Hopefully she will start to pick up that by accomplishing small goals, she’s working on the big one as well.
It might be good for her to talk to someone less objective, too, say a career counselor or just a counselor in general. If she really wants to know how competitive she is, she can ask med schools directly.
It’s good that you are supporting her, though!

I agree with Megboo; short of offering her your support and being there for her, you can’t really “force” her to have more confidence. One other thing you might suggest to her is that she visit a counselor; it may help her to deal with her past more effectively if she has a professional opinion and guidance. Your university probably offers counseling services at low cost or even free of charge for students. Hope this helps, and best of luck to both you.

Having been the only daughter and the middle child, it seems I was raised with the trilogy of "You’re not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough."
When I was younger that certainly affected my self esteem. However, my husband has given me the support and encouragement I needed to forge ahead and I am now in my 3rd year of medical school.
I guess what I’m saying is, give her all the support and encouragement you can. Let her know that SHE is in charge of what she can and cannot do, and that you will be there for her.
Most of all, tell her to look into some positive reinforcement. Simple things like looking in the mirror everyday and telling herself she CAN do it. She IS smart enough, etc.
Best of luck to you both. And if she does end up being the woman for you, indeed, then I know you will both be able to make it together!

Hi Tim,
What a sweet, sweet email! I think that is the nicest valentine a girl could get.
I was actually asked to go to a new med school program at St Louis U but that was promptly squashed because “girls don’t go to college” let alone the rest of it. Yes, it has shadowed my life.
May I offer two suggestions. First, when she hears that voice in her head, ask her to notice it (that’s a big step!), and laugh at it. Imagine people who would stand up for her laughing at it.
Second, remember that damaging grades follow you everywhere. I would suggest to you that perhaps she should start/continue conquering this issue in a non-grade manner, if at all possible. Maybe she could get really good at something that “girls aren’t supposed to do” --I’m sure that person has more than one opinion–sports, a holiday alone, skateboarding down that incline she shouldn’t do, whatever. That voice will get pretty loud. She can become comfortable laughing at it.
Then, when it’s time for grades, she’s used to it, and can deal with it more easily.

Thanks for the advice so far guys, it sounds like I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. Grades aren’t even the issue actually, bjg, it’s just the confidence. She has a 3.5 GPA from the 3 years she did at a private university so she does have the grade background to do it, just not the confidence. I’ll just keep working on it and telling her what I already have been then if that’s pretty much all I can do.
I’ll see about getting her to talk to the pre-med advisor at CSU Chico when I go down there to talk to him myself in May. I was planning to do that anyways, so I’ll just bring her with me and she can talk with him too. The advisor at Chico sounds very nice so I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me bringing someone with me.

I’ve found the best thing for my confidence was a little success and a little progress; I think that’s why I’m so thoroughly enjoying being back in school, which is a drastic change. I’m sure that having you there to support and encourage her will help your friend as well. Best of luck to you two

I’ve been through nearly the exact same thing. Except, it was my father who put me down. I have grades to show that I believed him.
I was afraid I wouldn’t hack it in medical school. I still am. However, I know that if I don’t at least try I will regret it. My father lives a life full of regrets and, let me tell you, I won’t have any part of that kind of life. I was lucky to be allowed a glimpse into my future with the path I had been taking.
So, I began with baby steps and I began proving over and over to myself that I might just have what it takes. I started at community college by taking a light load and gradually increasing it. School was a big “You can’t do it” from my father, so the grades I began earning was a huge confidence booster for me.
Telling her she’s smart isn’t going to reverse years of her own mother putting her down. She has to realize, herself, that she can do it. Help her to realize it. My brother was the one who pointed out to me the flaw in my thinking. He, in fact, said that I definatly was stupid if I’m not going to attempt a life dream because of being afraid to fail.
Being shown the flaw in my way of thinking worked for me. It may not for her. I’m just sharing my experience in hopes that it helps.

Hey Tim,
Encouragement is always great, I think there can never be enough. Like a lot of previous posts,I personally relate to the low self esteem “thing”. I have always been a “go-getter”, good grades, never say never attitude, etc. Unfortunately I have recently been forced to deal with inner demons due to an inexplicable inability to write a test. Seems the closer I get to MCAT, the worse I become, and have sought counseling to find out why. All of the reasons I read here in the posts (in answer to your question)…a family histoy of “you can’t do it” whether implied or spoken have apparently taken their toll.
Demons can rear their ugly heads at unexpected times in unexpected ways. As for your “special one”, encouragement from a significant other could make all the difference in the world and may be all she has been waiting for. Maybe all she needs is your encouragement to become the “go-getter” that dwells within. Good luck.

I’ve studied alot of cognitive self-help stuff. I think that’s why I decided on medicine, I’ve recently gained the confidence to believe I can do it. I used to be painfully insecure and unbelievably timid but now I’m more a type A person, go-getter type. NEVER believe your personality is set and your beliefs don’t change. It takes time to build a negative self image so it takes time to change it. Oh yeah, I also cured my ADD without drugs or therapy.

Thanks for all the advice and comments guys. I haven’t talked to her too much since that day about it because she really wants to see me finish college first before she worries about it…I guess she only wants one of us to be poor at one time instead of both of us. :stuck_out_tongue: I didn’t really argue with her since obviously OPM kinda shows how old some people who attend med school are, so I don’t have a problem with her waiting as long as she does it sooner or later if that is indeed her dream.
Atleast if I’m already a practicing doctor when she does it, financial aid won’t be a problem. I suppose that’s one way to look at it.