Life as a premed back in college was not so bad. I would start off my day with coffee, go to class in the morning, attend either a seminar or a premed workshop after, fight sleep in my afternoon classes, run to my research laboratory to run some more gels, and finally go home at night to study and prepare for the next day.
Did I know how to budget my time? Of course! Look at all the extra-curricular work I was fitting into my schedule, from volunteering at two different hospitals to getting published at research. But, really, did I know how to budget my time? Well, when you put it that way, maybe I was not getting much sleep. And maybe I was not seeing much of my friends during my years as an undergraduate student.
But, hey, I thought, I am happy. Yes, yes, people did tell me that there were wonders to see beyond the classroom, either in simple gatherings of friends growing together or in a nice walk down the beach. But I always knew how to answer back: One day, when I am older, I will experience these things. For now, I am on a mission, and that is to get into medical school…
To be honest, I am not exactly sure what happened over the past year. I am now in medical school. I am also in my first relationship ever.
I guess at some point over this past year, I realized that that “one day, when I am older” is actually today. I realized that actually, I am going to be on a mission my entire life. Sure, I got into medical school, but what then? Next, I have to apply for residency and work hard to stay in a hospital in my home state. After that, I will compete for a fellowship so that I can specialize in the field I find most interesting. And after that, I better be the best physician I can be to my patients, providing both love and care for those who put their lives in my hands. I guess, then, I am not a mission that will end today or tomorrow. I, as well as my fellow medical school classmates, am on a life-long mission. College and medical school are both just a few bumps along the way.
How odd it is that I now find myself taking walks with classmates to hear amazing stories of struggles they overcame to attend medical school and sometimes just little snippets of how their weekend was? How odd is it that I visit my friends to have dinner with them several times a week? How odd is it that I can’t wait to see my boyfriend on the weekends?
You know, it is time we stop convincing ourselves that joy in life will come only once we get into medical school or achieve some other goal. Let me share a little secret: Life Can Actually Be Beautiful Right Now.
Shiela Beroukhim is a medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
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