An Academic Confession

Social media has a funny way of showcasing our strengths but rarely our weaknesses, struggles, hardships, and embarrassing confessions. Here’s my embarrassing academic confession:

I’ve read less than ten fiction novels cover-to-cover in my life.

As a child, I never dared to venture beyond the first book in the Hooked-On-Phonics series. Struggling with reading comprehension and lack of interest in fiction throughout elementary school, I was labeled with a “2nd grade reading level” during the 5th grade. During grade school, I was the kid who habitually used SparkNotes and CliffsNotes to “get by” with every English course… often times falling way short of the class average. I had perfect scores on the physical sciences, biological sciences, and writing sections of the old MCAT (15-15-T); however, a score of 7 on the reading comprehension (“verbal”) section forced me to retake this exam to stand a shot of getting into my dream medical school.

I hated myself. I wanted to be better, but no matter how much I tried to persist and “eventually like the book”, I became irritated and bored. To this day, I’m quite envious of those who can get consumed by a “good book” in the library, on a long flight, during their morning commute, etc.

In stark contrast, I thoroughly enjoy learning from nonfiction textbooks, research articles, DIY pamphlets, online forums, etc. I read purely for the desire to learn, apply, and share knowledge, and with more limited time these days as a physician, I have to be even more selective about what I peruse.

Drop me a comment with your academic confession!

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  1. Academic confession !i have never understood how people around me could make them sit and study for exams…..i am not that person who knows or attempt to study for exams…. i enjoy learning and always try to jump on things that grasp my interest and i have been poor at revision in my medschool becoz i am not a person who can stream line their study,,,,so from highly enthusiastic about learning i had turned into person who was not touching books for weeks altogether that really put me under stress a lot of struggle between regret and the new aversion of medical books ,,,,,its not that i didnt enjoy medical content or wasnt interested in patient care but the fear of exams grow that stronger in me to bay me from the most imp thing that i have always thought of doing………….i am still trying to decrease the gap….
    And ur posts have been of great help me in getting my confidence back….u really inspire me ……….

  2. Hi Rishi,

    You will most likely never see this but I just wanted to share my thoughts anyway. As someone who was a voracious reader in her youth, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not reading or enjoying fiction. Reading is a HOBBY. Choosing fiction books is a matter of PERSONAL PREFERENCE. You are clearly extremely intelligent and well spoken, but you chose to dedicate yourself to what you liked (science) as opposed to what you didn’t like (literature). And you have nothing to be ashamed of.

    At the age of 16, after discovering the art of origami, I stopped reading for enjoyment. I went from reading over 100 books in a year to reading fewer than 5 annually. In short, I traded one passion for another, because I had fallen in love with paper folding and didn’t want to spend my free time doing anything else.

    The right side of my brain has almost certainly atrophied, but the left side of my brain has strengthened immensely. For the first time in my life, I found myself enjoying math, which I had loathed previously. (Solving crease patterns in origami requires a good amount of logic and algebraic equations).

    We cannot have it all in life. There will always be talents and experiences that we will neglect due to the limited amount of hours in a day. My advice, Rishi, is to spend your leisure time doing what you gravitate towards. Reading fiction is clearly not one of those passions for you, and I would not encourage you to force your way through books that do not engage or excite you. (I forced myself to read Russian novels as a teenager and it was an irritating and laborious process).

    Stay safe during this pandemic, and thank you for all that you do! I am a nursing student from MA and wish that I could help on the front lines!!

    Best Wishes,

    Adele Hastings

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Adele! Yeah I’ve definitely gone the way of pursuing tech-related interests and learning new skills for the sake of expanding my interests beyond medicine. In the days of YouTube and free online forums, it’s so easy to pick up new hobbies! 🙂

      • You are very welcome! I am a huge fan of your content and follow your instagram page. YouTube/online forums have certainly enhanced my origami learning. Thank you for your hard work during COVID-19!


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