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How to get over your enemy's success?

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I know this post is going to be a bit long and sound very immature but I really need some advice.

Since high school, I knew I wanted to pursue medicine. I worked hard in high school to get good grades in advanced classes, volunteered etc.. you get the idea

There was this person in high school that I've known since grade 9. He was in several of my classes and probably finished with the highest grade in every class. (I'll call him Josh)

Personally, I could not care less if someone was having a success in their life, in fact, I would genuinely congratulate them for their achievements and successes. 

However, ever since Josh knew that I was also looking to pursue a career in medicine, we began to develop unhealthy relationships. We were really never "friends", rather acquaintances.

Whenever we got any assignments or unit tests back, he would always glance over and laugh/mock me that he did better than me. I was quite shocked as to why anyone would make fun of other people's grades. The worst part was when he sometimes said "Oh you probably won't get into medical school".

I initially ignored it. This continued all throughout high school and it did not bother me that much except when he mentioned that I was not good enough to go to medical school.

I was glad that he was going to a different university and I was just trying my best to get into my first choice for university so I wouldn't have to deal with his toxicity anymore.


Back when I was studying for MCAT last summer, I did not have a good time. I broke up with my girlfriend and was doing terrible on practice tests. I just stuck with it and pushed myself because I knew I did not want to re-write the MCAT. My practice tests score hovered around 55% tile which definitely was not good enough for Canadian medical schools.

One day, when I mentioned my practice scores to my close friends, one of them mentioned Josh. He joked that I should study harder since Josh told him that he was getting 90-95% tile on his practice tests when they hung out recently. I acted like it did not bother me, but in reality, it killed me inside. Ever since then, I could not focus on studying for MCAT. I knew he was going to get into medical school before me (if I actually end up getting in) and he would kill his MCAT. I would just picture myself him celebrating his medical school acceptance while I am home miserable studying for MCAT again because I would probably bomb it. When the actual MCAT day came, I imagined him doing well on his MCAT and could not focus during the exam. The result was obvious, I got destroyed on the MCAT.  I also rejected by schools that do not require MCAT. 

Flash forward to today, I am home studying for the MCAT again while Josh is probably staying home as well, except he is waiting for his medical acceptance news in May. However, I am in a much better shape now than last year. I will be graduating after this semester with a great cGPA and average ECs.  I am also over my ex-girlfriend and learned from my mistakes from last time I wrote the MCAT. However, only thing that is bothering me is getting over Josh's success. I know this mentality is very unhealthy as it will not do any good to me, but I want to know how I can let this go? This is something that has been bothering me for a while and I really want to put an end to this.  

I would appreciate any advice and my sincere apologies for the immature post. 

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I used to have an acquaintance like that in high school and undergrad and it bothered me a lot that they were doing better than me with 1/10 the effort, then I realized after getting into med school that's not all that special and they weren't even that smart compared to all the crazy people you meet in med school. Then same in residency. And so on ad nauseam. There are always tons of people above and tons of people below and if you're cocky about your supposed superiority like our acquaintances are, someday someone's gonna put you in your place.

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Honestly, the trick is to worry most about your own progress and no one else's. I used to be like you, and had people like "Josh" in my life. Over time, I just stopped caring, and wanted to work at being better for my own sake. These days, I'm starting to lose that perspective, and your post reminded me that I need to do that. If we live to compete, we'll win at games we never wanted to win. Don't become a doctor to beat Josh, do it for you. It's a tricky thought. There's also a whole branch of philosophy that says our desires are *all* copied from seeing what others want.

Now that I'm in med school, I find myself wanting the dumb things my peers want - money, prestige, instagram likes - instead of being my happiest self (which at the end of the day, only needs *some* of that). Good luck, PM me if you want any more advice. :)

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I had someone who used to bully me in elementary school and they were in my med school class...it sounds like you hadn't met Josh for several years - perhaps they have changed? I used to feel dread about facing this bully and having to interact with them in my class but people mature. They might be a douchebag before but maybe developed better social skills after, or maybe had some tough things going on that made them act that way back then. I wouldn't be too worried about his grades or him getting in before you, there will always be someone who does better than him and once in med, marks don't matter but personality / reputation does. 

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He is totally irrelevant to you, save that you allowed him to get into your head. Just get him out of your head, like you did with your ex. Your life is strictly about YOU where the focus should be. Just be the best person of whom you are capable, be kind and humble and move on. Years ago, in school, I was picked on and discriminated against, this was the best thing that happened to me. It toughened me up, made me a fighter for the underdog and they weren’t able to push me around then, and I gold my own today. As for competition, the only person against whom I compete is myself, in that I try to be the best person of whom I am capable and live with no regrets. Focus on the positive in life and put him to one side forever!

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If there is one thing for sure, it’s that there’s  always going to be a Josh. I had Joshes in my pre-medschool professional working life. I had Joshes in undergrad as a premed, even as an older applicant. And now in med school, there are a couple Joshes too. You won’t be able to get away from them, so the goal is to stop obsessing about them. Really. Stop now. Focus on you, and how you can be the best you can be (as stated above). It shows maturity and well-roundedness to stop obsessing and competing over other people. Comparing yourself to others is the key to suffering, period. 

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This reminds me of one of my friends, except he was genuinely nice and I can never say anything bad about him. He was always scoring higher than me in highschool, he received a better scholarship than me, and he had a perfect GPA in undergrad. He was obviously a gunner, 99th %ile on the MCAT and got accepted to UBC after just 3 years of undergrad OOP. When he applied for his first time he received 5 interviews across Canada--2 of them to my dream schools (UBC and U of T) and got in after his first try. Meanwhile, I did not do nearly as well on my MCAT (got ~70th %ile) and I am just completing my 4th year now. I am currently waiting to hear back from 2 schools which weren't exactly my dream schools. Naturally, I felt jealous and did not understand why he got the chance to interview at SO MANY schools whereas I could not even get a chance to prove myself to schools I really wanted to go to. I felt heartbroken that after hours and hours of work on OMSAS, extracurricular blurbs, and essays, UBC and U of T rejected me without any specific reason why. It made me feel less than my friend.

It's easy to feel like you're not enough and that someone else is better than you. But chances are, they are living in your head rent-free while you don't even cross their mind. This cycle can only be unhealthy for you. At the end of the day, it is crucial to not compare yourself to others... and I'm not trying to speak from my high horse because I am doing my best to not compare myself to my friend. While it may seem like your acquaintance has always been two steps ahead (just as my friend is with me), do not discredit yourself. Always do the best you can--that's all you should ask of yourself.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I wanted to add two things which is basically what everyone else is saying but wording it differently, in the way I think of it.

First is the idea of boundaries. It seems that you let Josh step all over you in high school and he assumed he can do the same later on in life. You were young then and you can change. The next time someone brings up Josh and how he is more successful then yourself, think of something cleaver that will shut them up. You can be classy all the while but they need to understand that you won’t allow them to put you down. Even keeping silence and walking away is sometimes a powerful message. I used to let family, partners, acquaintances walk all over me. I used to also jokingly put myself down in front of people, and then I realized I was inviting them walk all over me. When I realized the concept of setting firm boundaries I gained back my respect overnight. I thought it would take them some time to adapt but, no, respect was given where respect was asked. Setting boundaries is a necessary adult skill and you will get better at it with practice.

My second point is about focusing on Josh. I know when someone hurts us we have this inherent feeling of waiting patiently to see karma do her work. The problem with that is if Josh is focusing on Josh and you are focusing on Josh then who is focusing on you? Do you what you can control and that is focusing on you to make sure you make the most out of every experience you live (including your MCAT). If you do this continuously, there will come a time when Josh’s name will be mentioned and it will take you a second to remember who that is. 

Lastly, we all come with our own baggage, and I think that the best weight to keep carrying around is our willingness and drive to always live like the better versions of ourselves. All of the rest can be worked on.

Good luck

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  • 1 month later...

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