As the initial excitement and sheer joy died down from that exhilarating call on February 2nd, I sat overwhelmed in my room.
As I watched the number of likes and comments increase dramatically over that one silly picture I posted, I informed the world that yes, somehow, I was accepted to medical school. The calls and messages rolled in. I had never felt so overwhelmed and loved at the same time. Along with the congratulations, the questions poured out:
Are you excited?
Do you feel ready?
What kind of doctor are you going to become?
Yes. No. I don’t know.
If only I could convey my emotions in a simple measure of yes’s and no’s.
Am I excited that somehow out of the 3000-4000 applicants and some 8% chance of getting accepted, they chose me? T H E Y C H O S E M E? ! Yes, I think that merits some excitement. Don’t get me wrong though, I am terrified too. Terrified of being away from my family, of moving to a new country, of failure. Terrified I will be an underachiever – a mediocre doctor. What happens when you put 162 motivated, brilliant, and intellectually curious individuals under one roof? Does the thought of that not intimidate you? How do I alleviate the anxiety that embodies everything that I fear – the demands of standardized exams that ultimately set out to compare me to my peers. If comparison is the thief of joy then is medical school going to make me unhappy?
I live under the fear that I am never ready, that I have to maximize every conscious moment because I will never perform on par with my peers and if I do, it must be a statistical anomaly. You see, I have lived for 20 years and been in school for 17. When one hears that I started university at 16 they assume that it means I am ahead in school, when in reality it is the exact opposite. Always behind. Always trying to catch up, keep up, survive another test, another year. Trying to grow and mature at a faster rate than my peers just to keep up with them.
There is a vague sense of excellence in our culture, an idea that if you do not achieve the somewhat ambiguous meaning of success then you are letting someone down. Do you feel the same weight of self-imposed expectation that burdens you until it feels like you are surviving rather than thriving? Maybe your sense of insecurity is different or perhaps you have a better sense of self-worth and capability than me. I know there is a multitude of things for me to stress about but I know that the management of these insecurities will only come with experience and the belief that if God brought me to it, He will bring me through it.
[Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7]
Right now, all I know is that I am an undergraduate student, 5 months from now I will be a medical student and Lord willing 4 years from now I will be a doctor.
Do I feel ready?
Am I supposed to?
Medical school is medical school. It’s not meant to be easy, otherwise everybody would do it. All I know is that the next four years are going to require a whole lot of coffee and a whole lot of prayer, probably more of the latter than the former.