For the most part, my blog has remained pretty quiet since Thailand. Save for the occasional advertising for Accepted.com, I have been doing a lot of reflecting these past few months.
Let’s back up a bit. To the summer when AMCAS had opened and I was putting together my AMCAS application. I knew I wouldn’t be submitting my application on June 1st. In fact, I had decided to submit early August because I still had a few loose ends to tie up. Quite a few people voiced their opinions against waiting two months longer to submit, but I knew that I wasn’t entirely ready June 1st and I wanted to be 100% ready when I submitted my application. However, come August, I started having doubts about entering the application cycle all together this year. Early August became late August and before I knew it, it was time to go off to Thailand. So I decided to put the process on hold and apply to schools with later deadlines when I arrived home in October. However, when I came back from my rendezvous in Asia, I was convinced that the only way to get more traveling in was to go to a medical school abroad. I put a pause on all my current application attempts and threw myself into research in order to find a way where I could combine my love for traveling and medicine. Until I realized that if I wanted to attend a residency program at one of my dream schools, I would have an easier time actually attending a U.S. medical school.
Some time by the end of October, my gnawing feeling turned into growing realization that I would not be entering the 2015 admissions cycle. And oddly enough, I was comforted by that fact. One more year to really put together an outstanding application. One more year to proceed according to a checklist and officially submit everything on the day AMCAS opens. One more year to apply for financial aid so that I am granted a fee waiver well before the application is available.
Looking back at my old drafts from the summer, there were many times where I voiced how I would love to just wait another year if it’s weren’t for my biological clock. I am all for a feminist view when it comes to the workforce, but let’s face it, it is hard to solely focus on your career when you want to factor in a family as well. And for me, another year off meant another year that I would have to wait to fulfill another desire of mine.
But I knew, I knew deep down in my heart back in June . . . back in May, that I was not ready. I may have had my MCAT score and a few letters of recommendation lined up, but I was not financially or mentally prepared to go into battle. And at the end of the day, I want to take my time. I rushed through high school and I rushed into college. Granted, everyone in my life seems to moving forward. But at the same time, slow and steady wins the race. And as we established before, the journey to medical school and beyond is a marathon, not a sprint.
Everyone around me has different opinions. My parents, my friends, my colleagues, and my classmates – all have high expectations for me. They only know parts of my story, so they don’t understand why I haven’t already started the next chapter of my life. I know many of them will be confused with why I am stalling – in fact, I fear that many of them will believe that I am wasting my time away. But I’m not.
I was the student in undergrad who skipped lectures and discussion sections in order to pick up an extra hour or two of work here or there. I was the student who selected the lowest meal plan, 11 meals a week, in order to save a bit of money, which meant I skipped lunch every day and ate one meal a day on the weekends. I was the student who didn’t have my family’s financial support nor any financial guidance, and ending up running her credit score into the ground to salvage payments due for school. I didn’t go out nearly as much as I could/should have and on the rare occasion that I did, I wouldn’t allow myself to buy anything. It was sort of miserable.
Is it unfortunate that I will be 3 years behind my fellow Class of 2013 graduates? To put it in simple terms, yes. But if I only focus on that one aspect, I won’t realize the benefits I have already reaped from taking time off. Regardless of schooling or age, every individual is different and each and every story varies to some degree. My background has led me to where I am now, and while some might scoff at the delay, I know that this is the right thing to do for me.
So this year, no doubts, not buts, I am throwing in my hat for the 2016 admissions cycle. I’ve already begun throwing around a few 20/20 vision jokes with my mother, so hopefully (fingers crossed), I will get a seat for the class of 2020. Sure, I’ll probably graduate medical school when I am 29 or even 30, but I hope you take it as a sign of maturity when I say that life does not end at 30 and I certainly don’t plan for anything less. I will defeat the odds. Women should not have to race against time in order to fulfill both their personal and career goals. I want a family and I want to be a physician, but I also want to be the best person that I can be. And if that requires more time, well then I will take the time I need without regret.