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.

 

 

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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.

Spiraling Down

The Sunday before last, I had a horrible day. A day that started off on a very wrong note and progressed even further downhill. I believe it was August 3rd. I had finished up summer school and I had one last Immunology final to take online that day before I was “officially” done. I wasn’t nervous for the final at all – I had done well on all the other exams and quizzes and I had spent Friday and Saturday studying away. But I think what was said to me earlier that day threw off my entire plan. You see, someone very close to me said that they wished for my death in the heat of an argument. And although an hour later, they waved it off as nothing and said that we’re always ‘mean’ to one another, it simply didn’t pass. Those words were stuck in my head, replaying over and over again. And I began to feel myself sinking. As someone who fell down that hole in high school, and found myself very close to that hole once more my freshman year of college, I started to pull away once again.

Private Practice has been very therapeutic for me.
Private Practice has been very therapeutic for me.

Matters didn’t help that I decided to take my two-hour online final a couple of hours after this incident. At first, all was going well, but then, my computer froze. I’ve had my computer for about a year and a half now, and this was the first time it acted up. I thought it was a slight hiccup, and since I was good on time so far, I decided to wait for a few minutes and let my computer breathe. However, when 10 minutes had passed and I realized my computer wasn’t recovering, I completely broke down. I tried contacting my professor to let her know. I tried accessing the exam on my phone to see if I could continue. With my emotions running high, my nerves completely together, and the calmness I had while taking this exam prior had completely been thrown out the window. Time flew by quickly, and before it, the exam was over and I had left more than 25% of the test blank. I ended up getting a D on that final.

My professor was not responsive, similar to how she was the entire session, so I decided to restart my computer and at least try to get my mind off how crappy my day had been so far with some therapeutic TV shows. But my computer ended up crashing. It wheezed, and coughed, and groaned, and then just gave up. I drove to the Apple Store both that day and the day after to see what could be done. I was given two different diagnoses which is why I had to wait until Monday to come in again. $60 later and three hours spent in the mall simply sitting in one of those cushiony chairs outside of JCPenny (I am not a mall person), my computer was up and running again. But I wasn’t.

I stayed in my room for the next couple of days, staring at the walls with all my motivation extinguished out of me. I wanted to talk to someone. One of my best friends had already moved up to Davis. And the other one was busy with her classes at FIDM. I didn’t want to seem like a bother, but I was drowning. My mood was consistently unhappy, I was snapping at anyone and everyone, and for the life of me, I could not produce a genuine smile.

Luckily, as if persuaded by a higher force, my best friend from Davis spontaneously came back for a visit at the end of the week. In a 10-minute car ride, I spilled everything that had happened to her. And although there was not much she could do, just talking to someone lifted that burden I was carrying all week. My mood immediately lightened. Of course nothing had changed. My grade didn’t change, my professor who ended up being a mediocre Immunology lecturer didn’t change, those words were never taken back, and my $60 was never returned. But I got better.

I’m not sure why I’m bringing this up now. I mean, it’s been more than a week and I’m in a better mood now, definitely. But I guess it’s because, that shift in emotions was primarily because I was able to talk it out. Talking it out with a friend truly helped me. So I guess I’m writing this in hopes that if anyone out there finds themselves in a similar situation, no matter size, they will take the time to talk to someone. If you feel like you can’t talk to anyone, just know that I will always be here to lend an ear.

Talking helps,

A.

Vingt-trois

In a few hours, I turn 23 years old. Well, more than a few hours if you count that I was actually born around 3:30 PM on the 11th. But whatever, in a few hours, it’ll be my birthday once again. And then seven hours later, I’ll be taking my Anatomy final.

I've also started watching Grey's Anatomy.
I’ve also started watching Grey’s Anatomy if you couldn’t tell.

So you can either chalk it up to pre-birthday excitement or pre-final jitters, but I decided that it was time to add another post to this blog. It has been unusually quiet, but definitely not due to negligence. On the contrary, I’m on WordPress every day, going through my Reader, keeping up on my fellow bloggers and trying to find some inspiration.

AMCAS/AACOMAS officially opened up a week ago and I am still not satisfied with my personal statement. I’m sure that’s something every pre-med student faces – trying to find the words to sum up their desire/need to be a doctor. But as I have mentioned before, my path leading up to where I am today has been long – full of U-turns, lefts, rights, and stops. How do you sum up that at this instance in time, at age 22.997, you know for a fact that this is what you want more than anything else in the world. That at age 5 you wanted it. At age 14 you wanted it. At age 18, you began to just consider it. At age 20, you were looking into other options. And at age 22, you decided to just let your dream go. How can someone’s mind change so quickly in a span of a year? In a few years? I feel like if I wrote down these actual thoughts in my PS, someone might just say, “hey, we don’t think you want it enough”. That’s a huge fear of mine, because seeing it on paper, it does seem sort of ludicrous.

But enough about of my fears – as I move forward, become another year older tomorrow, I feel like I am another year wiser. It’s not just something people throw in with “Happy Birthday”. I feel like I really have faced myself this year and come out with some pretty solid life lessons. Not to say that I didn’t make any mistakes this past year – I made plenty. And I’m sure 23 will be no different. So rather than huge festivities or grand gestures – instead of resolutions or hard-set goals – here’s to hoping that this next year of life will provide me with even more lessons. Because every life lesson is just another indicator that I am really, truly living life.

T-4 hours,

A.

 

Inspire and Expire

“Breathe in, and breathe out”. That’s what I told myself 40 hours, 20 hours, 10 hours leading up to the MCAT and all throughout it. And now (at least for the time being), I’m done.

Done. Done. Done. I’m done. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that it’s over. In fact, it took about two days for the thought to settle in before I decided to blog about it.

On one hand, I physically felt a weight lift off my shoulders as I walked out of the testing center. On the other hand though, it’s strange to have this singular mission that completely consumed your entire being for six straight months, be extinguished so quickly – dare I say, rather unceremoniously.

Not to say that I would want to go through the studying, signing up process, and entire MCAT circus again. But I did learn a lot more than I expected to throughout the process. For example,  you really learn who your true friends are when you have such an enormous exam looming over your head. You have those who respect your wishes and hold no hard feelings for the missed social gatherings. You have those who send you emails and texts of support and love. And then you have the latter who simply do not understand that the MCAT is symbolic of what you want to achieve in life. Yes, it’s just an exam, but it’s also part of that ticket to launch your life’s dream and profession.

Last Thursday, two days before the MCAT, marked the end of my fourteen-week Princeton Review MCAT Prep course. Surprisingly, I felt a twinge in my heart when I left, and proceeded to draft this up:

An Ode to the End of MCAT Class

Today marks the final day of MCAT classes. At such a declaration, one would expect a response full of jubilation and relief. However, I find myself oddly saddened that the end is here. Who would have expected that when I signed up for these classes three months ago, I would come out with a greater appreciation for learning and science? Given the horrible experience I had with my SAT classes six years ago, I predicted the same, if not worse, from this experience.

And yet, as the days turned into weeks, I found myself looking forward to the next class. My instructors were genuine, good-natured people, full of humor and advice. They enjoyed what they taught and likewise, instilled a thrill in learning that I had long forgotten about. Subjects such as physics and chemistry that made me cringe in college, were relayed in such a fashion, that I felt as if I was just being introduced. Every day, I am not ashamed to say, I learned something NEW. And I realized, that I actually have the capability to learn and love science. Gone were the days of believing I was unworthy or unintelligent because transcription and translation were unappealing subjects.

Along with these amazing instructors, my fellow students were not the cut-throat sort of pre-medical students that I had the misfortune of meeting my freshman year in college. Though they were voracious when it came to recalling concepts and studying, they were just as helpful and sweet. In fact, students would bring in little treats from time to time, for no other reason, but to relay the notion that we really were all in this together.

Having gone through this course, I now believe that I have what it takes to thrive in medical school. However, I understand that in order to have the best experience, I need an environment just as fruitful. If medical school turns out to be this – a small group of students who help each other and instructors who are passionate about what they teach, I think I could find some happiness in medical school.

So what now? I’ll wait (somewhat on edge) until I get my results before planning those next steps. I’ve signed up to take a few science classes at the local community college, and now that I know what I’m capable of, I’m a little more excited to go “back to school”. I should also try to take a whack at some of those resolutions I made twenty-seven days ago.

Nothing more to say, but I will leave you with this song that not only got me through some late-night studying, but was my personal anthem as I walked into the prometric testing center last Saturday. Who says EDM can’t be just as rejuvenating as classical music?

Best,

A.

Thankful

Haiiiiiii,

As always, I feel like I need to remind myself how grateful I am to be where I am today. It’s really the little things that can pull some forward and even the four of us, sitting around our donated table and sharing meals/conversations, makes me feel grateful for where I am. Sure, I may have been knocked on, but someone’s definitely watching over me to ensure that I am not left in such a vulnerable position.

Likewise, I am very thankful to have had James as a resident this year and to have that relationship between RA and resident form into such a nice friendship. He is currently over encouraging me to finish my Amino Acid Concentration lab early. And we all know that due to my horrible habit of procrastination, I would have probably been doing this lab two hours before it was due. So I’m grateful that I can depend on him as a friend and classmate this quarter. The push to work is much needed – especially if I want to reach my goals.

Cindy still taking pictures of us
Cindy still taking pictures of us

<3 A.