Power Nazi

On today’s “On This Day” surprise courtesy of Facebook, I got a throwback to March 18, 2009 – the day I found out that I was accepted into UCLA. I remember everyone was anxious to hear from UCLA and before I received my acceptance email, I had heard that many had been rejected. When I saw the word “Congratulations” light up on my computer, I was so insanely happy. And of course, I did what any teenager in 2009 would do – I wrote a status simply saying UCLA :]. I got a lot of congratulatory messages from friends, but I also received this comment from a former acquaintance – ” I guess they only accepted power nazis this year.” And just like that, miles away, years later, I felt triggered.

I have been struggling with this issue a lot lately. This perception of me that everyone else seems to have when I don’t perceive myself that way at all. Back in high school, I was president of a club that grew from 50 to 500 members. We were so big, we had to start meeting in the gym because a classroom just wouldn’t suffice. So when you’re trying to get the attention of 500+ teenagers during lunch time, you have to be assertive. You have to be loud. You have to have a commanding presence. But of course, when I did this, I was automatically deemed the “power nazi”, even though back then, I was one of the sweetest people you would ever meet. It bothered me then, and it bothers me way more now. Because I’m 99% sure that if it was a male president who tried to assert his authority at at a meeting or an event – a male who was organized and stuck to agendas – he would have been called a boss, not a “power nazi.”

But I digress. Fast forward eight years, and once again, I feel weighed down by this sadness that others perceive me as someone I am not. They see me as a radical feminist (because in this town, any word spoken against men or gender inequality automatically deems you as a man-hating liberal), a gossip, a weirdo. Some seem me as “too smart”, while others don’t see me as competition at all. I am a mother/planner to some, but then I’m too irresponsible for others. One guy who I met early on last year and who I thought shared a lot in common with me, apparently was turned off by the fact that I held the door for him once. He waved me off as too aggressive because I am proud of where I come from and I challenge those who are too ignorant to realize there are other countries in the world other than India. But maybe, they are all right in some way – maybe I am an aggressive, weird, organized, young soul, who makes mistakes and has flaws. I just wish, they would acknowledge that at the end of the day, I am a good person. I do what I can for others. I try to do good. I try to make others laugh. I try to make life better, more meaningful.

It has been difficult finding my tribe, but this weekend once again proved that I desperately want a group, a clique, a family. I have friends and I have some closer friends, but I still feel as if I’m floating, not necessarily tethered down. Or perhaps all of this is just a combination of PMS and being homesick. Spring Break can’t come fast enough.

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Awkward Stage

Let’s be real, when have I ever not been in some sort of awkward stage? Pre-teen years, teenage years, young adult years – maybe it’s just me, I am and will forever be awkward. But being in school at this stage of life has been a bit unnerving. They said the average age for medical school is 25 – so really, I should think great, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. However I feel like I’m caught in the middle. Perhaps it’s because I’m in the South where marriages tend to happen sooner. Or maybe because it’s a relatively small town. But I feel like I’m caught in between two types of people. On one hand, you have the fresh out of school students who want to continue living out their college years by going to parties, drinking daily, and goofing around. On the other, you have the students who are married and/or have children and despite their age (as some of them are younger than me!), they are very formal, by the book, with no interests in socializing. I know I’m not twenty-one, but I’m also not an “old fart”. I want to hang out with friends, watch Netflix, maybe go to a movie, hike, etc. But I also don’t necessarily need alcohol in the picture to have a good time. I want friends who are at a similar point in life where I am – they’ve grown a bit so they’re not searching for the crazy, but who still enjoy exploring and winding down.

To Blog or Not To Blog

It’s funny, you would think that after deciding to take a break from school last June and focus on work and traveling, I would have had all the time in the world to resurrect this blog, catch up on my Goodreads book list, and reacquaint myself with the girl who began this blog. But life literally escaped me. True, I tacked on a few more responsibilities and I engaged in #teamnosleep more often than not. But there are periods of last year where I can’t even tell you what consumed my time. When I try to recall last summer for insistence, I need to pull out my Google Calendar and visibly see what my time commitments were – and I think the summer flew by simply because I was following that motto “work hard, play hard”. In 2016 alone, I worked over 2000 hours as an ER scribe. And this didn’t include the occasional babysitting gig, my weekly shift at the local yoga studio, or my new position as Anatomy/Physiology STEM Coach at a nearby community college.

That being said, I feel such a void currently now that my hectic scheduled has dwindled down to simply school. And I know that’s a good thing – to not have to worry about financial commitments and to simply be a student and learn. I haven’t experienced that since high school! But at the same time, for someone who followed a routine – “work in the ED from 6P-4A, teach Anatomy/Physiology from 9-5P, repeat” – I feel out of my element. Additionally, I’m away from my support system – my friends and my family. Besides the occasional text or Snapchat, I am completely and utterly alone. It is difficult to simply not fall into a whole, and that is why I am so grateful for classes that I am taking, which keep me motivated.

Anatomy is one of my loves. I fell in love with the subject when I took it at my local community college and then gained respect for it when I dissected a donor and proceeded to use that donor as well as others to teach the lower-level Anatomy classes. Do I have an edge? Well slightly, but that doesn’t mean I came in with all the knowledge. I was introduced to multifidus, the branches of the axillary artery, and I finally now understand the brachial plexus (because for some reason, it just did not click in my head years ago). But what I am learning, specifically clinically-oriented Anatomy, has been absolutely riveting, that I want to learn more, I want to learn everything – what’s before, after, and under. So when other students ask me if I study a lot, I laugh, because I honestly waste more hours trying to decide whether I want to resurrect this blog than memorizing innervations. That doesn’t mean I don’t study at all, but when I review the material, I do it with the intention that I will be using this information when I treat my patients.

For My Mother

Last month, my stay-at-home mother of 24 years finally found a job as a preschool teacher at a nearby Montessori school. While it is wonderful that she was able to snag a job, especially with her lack of work experience, it saddens me that it is a job out of necessity rather than desire. Before she moved to the United States, she was an associate professor at a college in Sri Lanka, making good money, and teaching a subject that she enjoyed. Albeit she’s a “teacher” now, it really is a glorified sitter position – I say this because of my experience at an infant development center. She finds joy in coming home during her 40 minute lunch break simply so she can get away – not only from the children, but from the other teachers who have less experience and lack degrees, and yet won’t lend a hand and help her. Rather than helping my mother acclimate to the classroom setting, they have thrown her out to fend for her own. During these lunch breaks, I sit in my room and listen to her teaching herself how to sing these nursery songs. It brings tears to my eyes because at this age, she shouldn’t have to work this hard. She shouldn’t have to stress over learning nursery rhymes – if anything, she should be teaching subjects. Teaching letters, words, numbers – a solid teacher. It breaks my heart knowing that she can’t and it makes me even more motivated to get to a point in life where I enjoy what I’m doing and I can provide for her like she has provided for me all of these years.

The Waiting Game

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you view the glass), I have never had to endure the anxiety that comes with being placed on the wait list. For every application I have submitted in the past, I have either been accepted or rejected and that was that. Until today.

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At this moment, I’ll refrain from saying anything more, simply because I don’t want to jinx anything. I haven’t written in a while, but I promise I’m still around. And with my application submitted for the 2016 cycle, I will definitely have updates to provide. But for now – prayers, chants, advice, or anything else to nudge me across that fine line between wait list and accepted would be greatly appreciated. My birthday’s in one week and three hours and there’s nothing, short of an actual acceptance to medical school, that I have wanted more. Of course, I still stand by the usual “everything happens for a reason“. So if it’s not meant to be, I’ll be just fine.

Here’s to hoping,

A.

 

 

Slow & Steady

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.

if only.
if only.

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.

you guessed it, I'm on a Friends binge!
you guessed it, I’m on a Friends binge!

– A.

 

 

Countdown

Another year, another 31st of December, which means it is time, once again, to look back and see where my head was at this time last year. In a sense, readdressing my resolutions is like opening up a yearly time capsule. Let’s take a look at my 14 resolutions made on December 31, 2013:

1) Get a tattoo.

  • [x] On July 5, 2014, I got my first tattoo. And I know, on the grand scheme of things, this is somewhat trivial, but this was a major step for someone who always dreamed, but never followed through.

2) Apply to medical school.

  • [~] TBA

3) Develop a greater understanding for my culture, language, and religion.

  • [~] This is definitely an ongoing resolution, but I have made strides this year!

4) Go on an overseas medical trip.

  • [x] Made it happen! I went to Thailand and then some.

5) Learn how to play “Stop This Train” on the guitar.

  • [  ] Not yet.

6) Shed 10-20 lbs.

  • [~] I lost 20 lbs in Thailand when I was the happiest and experiencing minimal stress. It gave me great insight on how my life has to change to get to that point once again.

7) Attend at least one concert.

  • [x] The one and only, Jason Mraz.

8) Exercise a least five times a week and continue to make healthy food choices.

  • [~] Again, another ongoing process.

9) Learn to study smart and excel in future classes.

  • [x] YES. If I learned anything this year, it was that I had the potential all along.

10) Pay off my credit card debt and loans.

  • [x] Done and done.

11) Read at least two new books every month.

  • [x] Take a look at the right at my Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge!

12) Prioritize myself first when necessary, but be a better friend, sister, daughter, and community citizen.

  • [x] Learning when to say no and when to say yes.

13) Learn to stay calm and curb my anger.

  • [~] Ongoing process.

14) Stay optimistic, everything happens for a reason.

  • [x] If there is was one word to describe this year, it would be “acceptance“. I took me quite a while to come to the realization that regardless of who I was or am or where I come from, my story is one and only. There is no set path in this life, but if I remain hopeful, what will be, will be.

8/14 done properly. 5/14 are ongoing. And only 1 that has yet to be completed. 2014 may not have been significant in terms of life events, but this first gap year of mine provided me with some much-needed reassurance. I not only know what I want out of life, but I am a little more aware of how I should go about to do so. Here’s to hoping that 2015 will continue to provide me with the determination to manifest my desires and the encouragement to turn ideas into ideals.

And with that I leave you with my 2015 resolutions and my best wishes for an extraordinary new year!

 

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Happy New Year,

A.