It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Running a marathon is an exhaustive feat that should not be taken lightly. However, with proper planning and a vision, even the most arduous challenges can be accomplished. When beginning a marathon, seasoned pros head off conservatively. It could be easy to forget that the first mile doesn’t win the race, thus one may lose motivation watching other runners zoom by. However, let them, because you’ll see them again in 25 miles; stay in your lane, run your own race.

Throughout my first year at UCSF, what impacted me the most was learning this simple lesson: life is a marathon, not a sprint. I chose to attend UCSF and pursue my PharmD because of its famous residency match-rate and prestigious reputation. As a first-generation Asian-American student, I grew up in an environment where my parents ingrained in me an academic fervor; one that made me fixate on the prospect of receiving the first letter of the alphabet on every report card possible. And entering into a scholastic jungle like UCSF, I came with the same competitive prowess that propelled me through college. Initially, I wanted to sprint the first mile of the race past my peers, but I was not aware that I’d be overexerting my energy and focusing too much on the finish line.

Oftentimes, we students are so tunnel visioned on the degree that we miss the most beautiful part of the race - the journey itself. Building connections and having new experiences is what we should be making the most of. One of the simplest yet most powerful skill I honed this past year was networking, which is the ability to develop connections and more importantly, maintain solid relationships with others. This is not a feat that I learned by sitting in a classroom, but rather through interactions with my closest peers. Multiple late-night cram sessions and casual post-exam luncheons molded my networking repertoire, which paid off during professional roundtables and one-on-ones with pharmacists.

As the old adage goes “It’s not what you know, but who you know” and I can personally attest to that. From my experience, having the right connections will take you much farther than 3 digits on a transcript ever will. While I learned that hard work is great, that alone is certainly not enough. Networking opens doors and it is hard work that keeps them open. By emphasizing the refinement of my professional acumens and maintaining relationships, I began to enjoy my trek through UCSF.

As I shift my perspective to the overall picture, I began to realize why it’s so important to enjoy the journey and not focus too hard on the destination. Pharmacy school is a journey meant to be undertaken with peers to support your development and supplement your learning. When looking back, I am positive that I’ll reflect on the memories I made with my classmates, not the A I almost scored in a clinical pharmacy class. A single letter shouldn’t determine my happiness in the course of pharmacy school. In the grand scheme of things, there’s a conversation to be had about happiness; it isn’t a goal that can be set and achieved. Happiness doesn’t respond to hard work or dedication.

In fact, the more you aim for it, the more it tries to elude you. When you achieve your goal, you’re always wanting more, or something better, because it’s an intrinsic human instinct to never settle. However, true bliss takes place when you set it as a byproduct of living your best life, not by setting it as a destination. As a goal, it is incredibly hard to reach, but by living well and enjoying the journey, one can come to appreciate happiness in even the littlest things in life. Just like during any marathon, it’s important to look to the side to enjoy the view and take in the nature.

Running in the corral with hundreds of others can be nerve-racking; however, like pharmacy school, it’s important to have a support squad and run with a team. Finishing a marathon demands a team-oriented mentality, one that encompasses leveraging the strength of those around you. In order to run fast, go alone; but to run far, go together. And of course, don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.