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    5 true pieces of advice first-years hate hearing


    1. “Find a hobby outside of optometry, you will need it.”

    My initial reaction: Oh, really? A hobby? Cool. I will get right to it.

    I got an email saying my first semester is 26 class hours a week, excluding practice and homework. My entire life has been a carefully choreographed dance of science classes and appropriate volunteer/extracurricular work to get into this school, but yeah, I am sure I could pick up cross-stitch, competitive cup-stacking, or something.

    Related: Making New Year’s resolutions, optometry style

    Why it is still true

    This was the first piece of advice I simply balked at, and I wish more than anything I had not ignored it. It is ridiculous when you’re standing on the firehose end of school to imagine taking on a single extra task—much less need it.

    What I didn’t understand was the hobby was not for my resume but for my mental health. I didn’t do very well at self-care in my first semester, and my grades showed it.

    In the second semester, I debated locking myself in my room to improve my grades. My friends and family pointed out how unhealthy that sounded. Instead, I restructured my study schedule to include short coloring breaks and chats with well-adjusted humans who were not optometry students. My grades came up significantly, I felt less miserable overall, and I remembered I liked eyeballs.

    Side note: Mental health is a dangerously underemphasized need for medical students and workers everywhere. An OD wanting to single-handedly save the world’s vision is great, but there needs to be a healthy OD in the cape before any of that can happen. Take care of yourself, and seek out support when you can’t do it on your own.

    Shelby May
    Shelby is a third-year student at Southern College of Optometry. She is particularly interested in Vision Therapy and Pediatrics. Any ...


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