A breath of relief.
Then the numbness.
In that order is how I felt walking out of my first module final exam. I think I was in a good amount of shock for a while after I ambled out of the auditorium. 100 questions. 2 hours later. And I was done with my first medical school module. It was a very weird feeling. I felt as though I was going to wake up, and it was going to be 7AM again and taking the test was just a dream.
Really, all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed and sleep for a while. I, unfortunately, picked something up the day before my test and woke up with a mild fever and a runny nose. But nonetheless, my friends and I went out to lunch and smiled and laughed. It really was all over. Our first module of medical school was over, and we all survived.
I spent the rest of the weekend sleeping, recovering, shopping, and reading/writing in coffee shops. It was the first weekend where all of us felt like normal people again. Nothing to worry about and no long to-do lists or Monday quizzes.
I also did a lot of reflecting. Medical school was everything I had heard of and imagined and more. It challenged me and stretched me to my limits. It was a ride of ups and downs, and on the way, I learned a great deal about myself and keeping sane.
Our first module had the creative name of Molecules to Medicine. It was a compilation of biochemistry, cell physiology, physiology, and a little bit of pharmacology. I had taken some of these courses before and was familiar with the information, but I had never learned it at this pace before. The information at times literally felt like a fire hydrant exploding. I have never felt so behind in my life and have never felt that overwhelming feeling of never catching up.
I’m not going to lie. My experience was hard, and it was rough. I learned how it felt like to hit rock bottom. I felt stupid. I felt as though the admissions committee had made a mistake of selecting me to be in the class. Many times, I felt as though I was drowning in the information. I felt hopeless.
But you know what else I learned? I learned the importance of picking yourself up. I learned the importance of believing in yourself. Because here’s the thing: your family and friends are always going to have faith in you, but you need to also believe in yourself. We are all in medical school for a reason. We were all accepted and deemed competent. We are all at this point at our life for a reason.
So do not doubt why you are here. Or why you are anywhere in life. You got there and you were placed there for some reason so make the most of it. Thrive in it. Live it.
People also say how easy it is to lose yourself in medical school. Being here, I suddenly understand why. If you don’t make time for yourself and you don’t have ‘me’ time or just be with your family and friends, then you’re just going to be in an endless cycle of studying and on/off frustration.
There has to be times when you choose life over work.
It was late at night. I had just finished studying at the library and decided to go over to a friend’s place for a brief break of wine and cheese. It turned into a conversation on where we should go after STEP and continual laughter. But the best part of the night? It was when a couple of us left and headed towards my car.
There was soft rumbling in the clouds as rain poured and poured onto the cars. The roads were slick and a layer of water slushed around, gurgling in the gutters and dancing with the continual rain droplets. I remember running to my car, grasping the handle of the door, looking up at the dark sky, and feeling the fresh drops of water on my face. It was like a breath of fresh air after many long days of dryness. I remember looking at my friends with a watery grin and realizing that we all had the same thought in our heads.
Next thing I knew, we were laughing obnoxiously and running through the parking lot, kicking up puddles and splashing each other in the faces as the rain continued to shower us and soak us with joy, delight, and tranquility. Soaked to the bone with the biggest smiles painted on our faces, we ran back to my car, laughing.
I felt frozen when I got home and my car smelled in the morning, but it was all so, so worth it.
And lastly? I just want to say thank you to my beloved family and friends who have stood by my side through this no matter what and thank you to my new friends who have been the best support system in the world. Every little text, phone call, voicemail, e-mail, and words of encouragement mean so much to me. I love you all.