When I Grow Up

Inspired by barefootmed’s post about passion, I decided to create a “mindmap” from a post I drafted up back in October of 2013 that illustrates my thought process as I was deciding what career would suit me best.

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This is of course a watered down version of the real deal. There were many other professions and disciplines that I considered going into whether it be for a moment or for an extended period of time. I wish I could say that I had it figured out in high school. I mean, I thought I did – like many other pre-meds, I had declared that I wanted to be a doctor back when I was 5 years old. But as you learn more about the world, you just realize there is just so much more out there than your generic, “teacher, firefighter, lawyer, doctor” spiel that you get in elementary school. Friends, movies, tv shows, books, professors, colleagues, people – they all gave me perspective.

While I am happy that I found my way back to my five-year old’s dream, up until two years ago, I honestly never knew why I was hell-bent on becoming a doctor. There aren’t any physicians in my immediate or extended family. I wasn’t exposed to death at an early age, nor was I diagnosed with any life-threatening disease that required frequent trips to the hospital. I had no fractures or broken bones growing up and I was seldom sick so the only time I would see my pediatrician was once a year during a wellness exam. That’s all. So why was I “passionate” about becoming a doctor when I couldn’t identify where that passion stemmed from?

High school students (and younger) are often led to believe that in order to find that right job for you, you must be passionate about it. This hit close to home for me because there were countless times in college and high school where I would find something science-related boring and question my intentions for going into the medical field. I had a high school guidance counselor who stood up to my freshmen class and told us that if we weren’t passionate about science and math, we were probably not going to become doctors. It struck a nerve then, and it still irks me now that a counselor would say that to students who barely had a grasp on what they wanted to do, let alone understood what the term “passionate” entailed. As someone who naturally excelled in English and History, I definitely started questioning myself after hearing just that one phrase. And that’s probably what spawned my inability to commit to one profession during my college years.

Of course, nothing beats being Mr. Feeny.

So back in October of 2013, months after graduating from college and on the brink of taking classes for the MCAT, I sat down and tried to logically explain what worked and what didn’t. And I came to the conclusion that it’s just not ONE thing that makes this profession suitable. It doesn’t boil down to passion. It stems from a myriad of factors including my likes, dislikes, and job expectations. And when all of that was taken into consideration, I just knew. Regardless of how long this process will take, nor how many hoops I need to jump through to get there, this is what I want to be when I grow up.

<3 A.

 

More Than Words

During my daily ritual of perusing interesting articles and links, I stumbled across this website which tells you the #1 song on the day you were born. I’m pretty sure that I have seen this link before, or some sort of version of this link, because this #1 song was added to my iTunes playlist on March 14th, 2014 and has been played exactly 41 times to date.

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There was also a parody of this song featuring Nuno Bettencourt in an episode of How I Met Your Mother.

As much as I love discovering connections between seemingly unrelated topics, I also think the song itself is blog-worthy (as well as a pretty good song in general). Back in ’91, Bettencourt noted the diminishing value of the phrase “I love you”  –

“People use it so easily and so lightly that they think you can say that and fix everything, or you can say that and everything’s OK. Sometimes you have to do more and you have to show it—there’s other ways to say ‘I love you.'”

It’s 2015 now, 24 years later, and I think the issue is still present, if not larger than before. I know I, myself, am guilty of tossing out these three words loosely. But then again, maybe the phrase doesn’t hold the same sort of power it did before. And if it does not, then how do you distinguish the real thing? How do you express those deep, innermost feelings if by today’s standards, the phrase “I love you” can be casually thrown out without any attached emotion? Perhaps in this case, actions really do speak louder than words.

With love,

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.

 

 

Sunscreen – your invisible faceshield

I definitely need to make more of an effort!

Tea with MD

I posted this video recently on my FB and got quite a few shares, so I wanted to embed the link here. I love this video because oftentimes people don’t feel the effects of sunscreen. The problem is, you won’t appreciate the benfits of daily sunscreen use until you’re older, when the damage of lifelong UV exposure really shows. I’ll admit – I’m guilty to going without sunscreen quite often these days since it takes that much more time in the morning when I’m already sleep deprived. (I know, I know, bad future dermatologist!) But watch this video and see just how drasticallysunscreen can change your protection against UV rays. I know I’ll be spending a few extra minutes putting on the good stuff after watching this.

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Liebster Award Nomination

Liebster, pronounced ‘LEEB’-ster, is a word of German origin and means beloved, preferred, or liked very much among others. It is a term of endearment and likewise, the Liebster award is one created by bloggers for bloggers as a way to acknowledge their work in the bloggersphere.

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Yesterday, I was nominated for the Liebster award by fellow blogger hipstermedstdnt. Before I go on, let me tell you, hipstermedstdnt aka Alex, is one of the most talented and artistic souls that I have had the pleasure to meet in the bloggersphere. His posts, written so eloquently, are raw and honest, engaging the reader on a personal level. I first discovered his writing via his previous blog on Blogspot, and given our mutual appreciation for coffee, I was instantly hooked. Yes, he is about to begin his life as a medical school and yes, his blog provides great tips and insight about the field of medicine. But he is also a poet and his views on life are something you definitely do not want to miss out on! So check him out and thanks again, hipstermedstdnt!

Now I know outside the blogging world, this award doesn’t mean much. But I am absolutely honored to have been given such a “nod”. I have been running this blog for about five and a half years now. And within those years, I’ve tried other platforms such as Tumblr to express my thoughts. But it is absolutely wonderful to have x number of followers who choose to follow you because of your written posts and thoughts rather than 200+ followers who just follow you on Tumblr because you posted a fangirl picture of Chris Evans. Truly humbling and therefore, I am very grateful for the nomination.

In order to accept the Liebster award, the following rules must be completed:

The Liebster Award Rules

  1. Thank the nominator and post a link to his/her blog ✓
  2. Display the award on your blog ✓
  3. Answer the eleven questions provided by the nominator ✓
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs which have less than 1,000 followers, and let them know they’ve been nominated ✓
  5. Make up and post eleven questions for your nominees to answer ✓
  6. Post these rules on your blog ✓

Question 1:
Why do you blog? Is their a specific audience you seek, and what type of message do you want to instill into your readers?

I’m going to cheat a little and recycle what I wrote for my Accepted.com interview since it took me a while to draft that up. 

I began my blog back in 2009, when I was a senior in high school and awaiting to hear back from colleges. I have always found comfort in writing down my thoughts and opinions and to be able to share them through a public forum was invigorating. Though I may not write consistently as some other bloggers, I find that when I do write, it is driven by an intrinsic need to share a momentous memory or event. Regardless of whether I am experiencing joy or hardship, writing allows me to clear my mind and think logically.

Yes, I am a pre-med student and I do hope to attend medical school one day. So I often write about what I encounter through this application process. And maybe when that time comes, my blog may shift its focus to include more stories from a medical perspective. However, there is more to me than simply being a pre-med student – I am a young woman, a musician, a writer, an explorer, an optimist, a hopeless romantic, and so much more. I come from a low-income, ethnic background and every day I learn something new.

Therefore, when you ask if I have a specific audience, I would hope that my blog would cater to anyone who is simply going through this roller coaster ride known as life. As cheesy as that metaphor might be, I think it definitely illustrates the ups, downs, and transitions that everyone from adolescents to adults face today. As students, we may be taught exceptional material by renowned teachers and professors, but no one ever teaches you how to deal with the “in-betweens”. The curveballs that get thrown at you. What actually comes after “happily ever after”. I hope my blog conveys that sentiment – that there is confusion, struggle, and sometimes a little fear when figuring out what’s next. But with the downs, there are always ups, and that is the beauty of life.

I titled my blog Serendipity five years ago because it was such a lovely word and a great feel-good romantic comedy. I’ve held on to that title five years later, however, because I have noticed several events in my own life that seemed to be fortunate accidents. Life works in mysterious ways and what may seem ill fated at the time may actually be a blessing in disguise. So all in all, whoever my readers may be, my only wish is that they begin to see and perhaps appreciate serendipitous acts in their own lives.

Question 2:

Think back to a day where you had a big choice to make. Did you make the right choice or would you go back and change something?

At this moment, the biggest choice I had to make was last August when I decided against attending Columbia University for a Masters in Developmental Psychology. It was a huge decision for me at the time and deciding against a program that I had already committed to was something I could not come to terms with at the time. However, almost a year later, I can say that it was absolutely the right choice. If I could go back, I would do it all over again. I might just try not to freak out as much.

Question 3:
What is your favorite book or genre of book? Which types of stories inspire you the most?

My favorite book, to this day, is still the first book I bought at my local school’s book fair in first grade, which was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Along with Harry Potter, I find that I am most inspired when I read books involving the protagonist and a series of struggles he/she must endure in order to come out successful. I believe that these stories are much more relevant in our daily lives and even those that seem fantastical still have similar points of perseverance and determination. At the end of the day, these stories give me hope.

Question 4:
What type of music do you like? List some of your favorite bands.

I appreciate a variety of musical genres ranging from hip hop and rap to pop and rock to electronic dance and folk. I am a multi-faceted individual and likewise, my different moods call for different types of music. Before I really began to invest time in English artists, I was absolutely enraptured by Tamil music. My favorite artists (as of right now, according to iTunes), are The Civil Wars, Jason Mraz, Benny Benassi, John Mayer, Norah Jones, Vampire Weekend, and Alex & Sierra.

Question 5:
Because all of you are either in medical school or hope to one day attend, I’ll ask the famous interview question, why medicine? (Think of this as good practice!)

This is still something that I am trying to eloquently relay in a 1,000 characters. But let’s start with this, the field of medicine is continuously changing. As someone who considered becoming an elementary school teacher, I know I wouldn’t be happy with an environment that sees little change. Being a 5th grade teacher’s aide for eleven years, I saw children grow and I formed relationships. But then they’d go off to the next grade and were never seen again. I would want the relationships I form with the people I serve to last a number of years. In a nutshell, I want to grow with my patients. So a field that constantly sees change and challenges me to learn more. What else? English was my favorite subject in high school. Some parts of History, such as the era under Henry VIII, fascinate me. But science – the mechanisms within our own body, understanding functions, and forming those connections, there is nothing more invigorating than cold, hard facts. I have always been a curious individual and science has always been one of the few to always provide an answer to my “why’s”. Lastly, I want to work towards prevention rather than intervention. One of the best ways to do so is to start young and fortunately, I can communicate better with “tiny humans” than I can with adults, so why not go in and become an advocate for children’s health?

Question 6:
Do you possess any other artistic talents other than writing?

I play the piano, flute, and guitar and can play a song by ear on the piano.

Question 7:
If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be?

Oh that’s hard. Part of me would like to say Greenland or Norway, but I also know that I still have issues with the cold. So I think I would pick Singapore.

Question 8:
You have the next 24 hours to yourself. How do you spend it?

Without any monetary restrictions, I would book a last-minute flight to New York, watch the musical, Wicked, which is currently on Broadway, sight-see for a bit, and then return to my normal life. With monetary restrictions, I would probably grab a book on my list, find a spot in a park to call my own, and lay out and the sun and read the day away.

Question 9:
What is the most interesting or delicious thing you’ve ever eaten?

The most interesting thing I have ever eaten is my grandmother’s mango curry. I’m sure when I have traveled the world a bit more and experienced other cultures and traditions, this will probably change. But for now, nothing is as delicious nor interesting as her mango curry. The specific spices that she adds in along with the care and preparation, leaves you salivating for more.

Question 10:
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt entirely hopeless? If so, how did you handle it, and if not, how would you respond to such a situation?

At the end of my freshman year in college, I experienced a moment where I felt completely hopeless. Having been successful in school, I felt that I had let myself and others down during college. I was not doing well in classes as I expected to, my roommate situation was far from being alright, and I hadn’t spoken to my friends back home for months. I felt entirely alone in a school of over 10,000 people and I had no idea how to find my footing in such a big place. After short stints with a variety of clubs and activities, including ballroom dancing and advocacy, that made me feel even more uncomfortable, I finally had to stop and determine what would make me happy. I slowed down a bit, cut ties with the roommate, reached out to my friends and family, and explored activities that inspired me rather than add to my anxiety.

Question 11:
If you had only one week left on earth, how would you spend it and who would you spend it with?

If I only had one week left on Earth, I would spend it with my friends and family. But not my extended family nor friends who I have lost contact with. If I only had one week, I would recruit my best friends who I have grown up with and we would take a trip to Canada. Money would not be an issue. From Canada, my friends, along with my immediate family, would travel to Sri Lanka. I would very much like my last days on Earth to be spent in the country that I was born in.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that little Q&A session. Of course, if you ever want to learn more, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message! Now moving on, I proudly nominate the following five blogs for the Liebster Award (in no particular order):

1. Curve Balls And Med School

2. White Coat Wednesdays

3. the wife of a medical student

4. Laughter is the Best Medicine

5. the b.han project.

And my questions for them are the following:

1) What is one characteristic or quality that sets you apart from everyone else?

2) What was your favorite childhood toy or game?

3) What type of music do you listen to? Name three artists/bands that you would recommend.

4) What is your favorite color?

5) Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?

6) What is your favorite quote?

7) What are three things from your bucket list that you hope to accomplish by this time next year?

8) What is your craziest memory with your best friend?

9) What are some things in your daily life that consistently makes you happy?

10) What do you hope a typical day in your life will look like in 10 years?

11) Guilty pleasure show?

Have fun,

A.