I remember re-reading the email that was sent to junk mail - an email I almost missed. I was accepted into medical school. Finally. This was what I wanted for years and a surge of emotions flooded me.
It felt so surreal.
One by one I called my friends and recorded their reactions as their eyes lightened up after hearing the exciting news. It felt like a dream until I told my parents. I came downstairs and handed them the email that I printed out while my sister recorded. My mom screamed with my dad - who didn't even read the paper btw he said he just knew what it said hahahah. All the tears, hard work, sacrifices were worth it for the look of pride and joy in my parents eyes. This was the moment we all have been praying for.
Flashforward a little over a year later, and I have finished two units in medical school. It's only been four months but it feels like I've been here for ages. Classmates turned into friends who turned into family. I have met people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds and have been in awe since the day I started. I have fallen more in love with medicine and the people it has brought to me. So many amazing people from different places and backgrounds with the same passion for medicine. Wild.
Although it has been an amazing experience so far, there are numerous times where I come home emotionally drained after a long day of classes and studying. I've shed so many tears from mourning the life that I used to have, the friendships I have lost and the overwhelming amount of information that I feel like I can't grasp. I constantly feel behind and ten steps behind everyone. I don't have a background in anatomy which makes structures lab more challenging to learn. My prior background of public health feels like it serves no purpose but a great conversation starter on what's happening around the world with COVID-19 and vaccines. Regardless, I know I'll be a physician that is able to not only help my patients, but also help their entire community - a phrase that I continually say to myself when I feel less than.
It's crazy how the insecurities I thought I had overcome still manage to creep up. Insecurities of not feeling adequate, not being smart enough, not learning enough for my patients in the future lurk in the dark corners of my mind. It's so easy to burnout and be pessimistic while in medical school. Easy to fall into imposter syndrome. I went to my best friend's wedding recently and those I talked to were so impressed that I was going to be a physician one day. I smiled, trying to hide the fact that it's not always as glamorous as people think. Nobody saw the dark circles or the mental breakdowns or the loneliness that studying medicine comes with.
Despite all of this, I am so humbled and grateful to be here. It is a blessing and I try my best to be grateful even when all I want to do is complain.
With Thanksgiving now over, I reflect back on how thankful I am to be living the dream that I always thought was unobtainable. I wasn't accepted into medical school the first time around, and it definitely has given me a new perspective on medical school on the days where I am frustrated and discouraged.
I am thankful to be living the dream even though the bags under my eyes are darker and deeper and sometimes the stress overwhelming. I am grateful for my family who always pick up my random Facetime calls when I'm missing them and who happily show me my cats and dog at home. I am thankful for my parents and sister's words of encouragement, especially my mom's Tagalog phrases of encouragement that manage to make me laugh. Managing friendships have been difficult while in school and there are loved ones I feel I drifted from in a short amount of time, but regardless, the ones who are still here and check on me are what helps keep me grounded. I am blessed to have friends who are patient when I don't respond to their texts or calls and who happily pick up when I call them during my breaks from school and the little free time I have. Lastly, I'm grateful for my study group and friends I have made here so far that walk through this journey with me.
Physicians and medical students always talk about how challenging it is to have a life outside medical school and it's definitely something I am learning to navigate. Still - something I learned these past two units is that life goes on and doesn't stop when you're in school. Friends have given birth, gotten engaged or married, and have bought their own houses. Meanwhile, I've been memorizing the innervations and blood supply of the lower limbs of the body. Hahaha, anyway. During Unit 2, I still managed to come out with my family and celebrate my dad's birthday - a special milestone since he had heart surgery this past year and stood by my best friend while she married the love of her life. I know I could always be studying but have managed to become more comfortable and not feel as guilty doing life with my friends and family.
Through it all, God has been so faithful. I feel so blessed and grateful that I am finally walking in God's calling for my life. This transition of medical school and moving to a new city has been a whirlwind but I am thankful that despite all the changes - He is never changing. New and old friends come and go and they may break my heart, but He is always there for me to lean on even during the times I feel like I neglect Him. Thankfully I have found a local church in the area and a dear friend to go with and encourage me in my faith.
I aim to continue to cultivate a heart of gratefulness even when it's not Thanksgiving season. After all, this is the blessing that I've been praying for for years. I am humbled to be here to have the ability to serve others and will do my best to not take it for granted. I hope to continue writing in this blog as my medical journey progresses and encourage those who are going through the same process and give a new perspective to those who are not.
The girl with upside down dimples, aka your favorite OMS-I student