Balancing the pressure to be well-rounded

Millie Ronkainen

Millie Ronkainen

“You do not want to be so well-rounded as to be spherical.” This perplexing phrase was voiced by my adviser when I asked her if my extracurricular activities were adequate for an application.

As soon as she said this I realized I have been struggling with being spherical for a while.

As a pre-med student, I feel as though there are a lot of boxes I have to check and activities I must complete to make me well-rounded for my goals in life. Summer programs, prep classes, shadowing, research and leadership positions all compete for my time.

And all these pressures from outside make me feel inadequate and overwhelmed. The closer I come to applying to medical school the more obvious my inadequacies appear to me.

I have not attended a summer program, held a leadership role in an organization, shadowed as many doctors as my friends have and I have not always scored the highest on exams. 

I feel like I cannot keep up and as though I am losing myself to the crowd and the competition. But am I inadequate?

God did not intend for us to be exact replicas of one another. He did not intend for us to be spherical, to-do lists with every item crossed off. He gave us unique strengths and hidden gifts in our personalities.

When we choose to develop our strengths through our activities, we lose our spherical nature and become faceted, catching the light and sparkling like diamonds. We stand out from the crowd and are prepared to accomplish whatever task God sets before us.

The difficulty in this is trusting God enough to embrace our uniqueness, trusting that it is okay to be original.

We need to stop feeling guilty for spending time doing things we enjoy. We need to stop comparing ourselves to our peers.

I am slowly becoming more comfortable with the idea of just being me and doing what I do for the sake of doing it. Does it benefit anyone if I complete an activity just to say I did it? I do not need to check every box to be prepared for what God is asking of me.

I can take an original path through life and succeed without checking all the boxes. I can be well-rounded without losing who I am in Christ. I will not be spherical.