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.
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.
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.
Given that today is Thanksgiving, albeit a Hallmark-driven holiday, I figured it would be the right time to reintroduce my blog’s theme, “serendipity”. It is times like these, when you reflect on what you are thankful for, that you realize how much these fortunate accidents tend to shape your life for the better.
I originally stumbled across this word when watching the movie, Serendipity (which is a great holiday movie, by the way!), starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack.
Jonathan: This is the ultimate blend to drink. How’d you find this place?
Sara: I first came in because of the name: Serendipity. It’s one of my favorite words.
Jonathan: It is? Why?
Sara: It’s such a nice sounding word for what it means: a fortunate accident.
After this film, I began to witness how “serendipity” truly plays a character in our daily lives – and for all those times I can count, the outcome is always better.
An example? My Applied Developmental Psychology (ADP) minor at UCLA. I had known from the moment I started college that I wanted to minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. However, when I applied my sophomore year, I wasn’t accepted and I was absolutely heart-broken. Along with the disappointment, I wasn’t too keen on applying soon after. Less than a year later, however, while busy with plans to study abroad in the summer, I decided to apply last-minute on a whim. I’m not sure what consumed me, but despite the application being due the following day, I just knew I had to get it in. So in less than 24 hours, I contacted and received a spur-of-the-moment letter of recommendation from my 5th grade teacher and mentor (thank you, Mrs. Burke!) and was able to submit in a complete application. Two weeks later, I was offered a spot for the Summer 2012 cohort.
Spontaneity for the win, right? And sure, my plans for studying abroad were scratched. But as my good friend, Diana, noted today when I saw her, there’s always tomorrow. Back in high school, we planned on going to Spain together. Maybe that’s meant to be or maybe we’ll find our way there through some alternate path. While I advocate studying abroad in college, it just wasn’t in the books for me; but what I got out of my minor is priceless. Along with all the interactions with the children, I have met some of the most remarkable people through this minor. Some outside of my cohort, who supported me when I struggled to fulfill pre-med requirements and my minor requirements by overlapping classes and taking the maximum amount of units (thank you, Yujia!). And some inside my cohort, including one of my good friends post-graduation, Marina. I mention Marina because I had dinner with her a few weeks back. And it was then that I thoroughly explained to her about everything that went down with Columbia. Without hesitation, criticism, or disbelief, she simply said the following phrase. A phrase that was reiterated by my former partner-in-crime, Jessica, who I met up with this week,
“I feel like you’re doing you”
And that’s what I am thankful for – being surrounded by friends and family who understand where my true passions lie and are willing to believe in my dreams. I have done some crazy things in the past, but despite all that, they all have faith in me. My father, my mother, my sister. My advisors, mentors, and role models. My best friends from 4th grade, my friends from college and my friends in high school. Now I just need faith in myself, in my destiny, as I make my way towards medical school.
Along with Diana, I reconnected with Tim, a friend who will one day be one of the most powerful motivational speakers out there. He wrote this great gratitude speech, so while you’re dealing with that post-dinner food coma, check it out. In short, I am thankful for my failures along with successes. Without them, I would not be where I am today. If I wasn’t rejected the first time, I would have never met the people I did in my cohort in ADP. To sum it up, I am thankful for serendipity.
A detour from the usual to discuss a topic that often comes up when discussing the fragility of “meant-to-be” relationships. It is relevant once more as a close friend of mine decides whether she is as in love with her first and only boyfriend as she was in the beginning. For friends who are faced […]
I posted this on Tumblr a while back, but I think it’s an amazing reminder of how we all are really connected to one another.
Here’s a confession. As much as I never intended to get involved with dance (it was always supposed to be my sister and I was supposed to be the one who sang), I really did love it. And it’s exactly how you described it above. Bharata Natayam made me feel graceful and feminine and for once in my life, I could really relay my emotions to my audience. Which is why, every time I felt like this could be something life-changing for me, every time I was close to appreciating it, it was completely stamped out by Malini Aunty. I swear, if it wasn’t because I was the tallest girl in class, it was because I wasn’t graceful or was not trying. I hate when people tell me I’m not trying when I actually am.
So for the eight years of my dance career, I pretty much loathed dance and myself for almost the entire time. I probably would have quit sooner if it was not for my determination to prove Malini Aunty wrong and because I really did like it. But of course, every Friday, it was another blow to my self-esteem. It wasn’t enough that I felt like I was completely ugly in middle school/high school. I had to be told every week how un-feminine I was. So what kept me in it for those last two or three years? I could have easily said, nope, high school’s here, I’m out. Haha, I started to make legit friends in class. Like, really meeting everyone rather than simply acknowledging them. My first REAL friend in dance who made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that I could, if I put my mind to it, stick through it to the end? It was you Harshita (: Dance became fun and emotionally rewarding again because I was happy learning it, knowing that I had a friend to share it with (:
And then, of course, Malini Aunty decided to pull me from the class where I had a group of friends and place me in a different class all together. I knew I was missing a lot of class because of Leo Club and Color Guard, but we were having one-on-one sessions to help me catch up. And then she pulls that. Puts me in a class with pre-teens and it’s back again to how I’m the weakest link. So I did both her and me a favor. I quit.
I regret it of course. I wish I could have stuck through it just like everything else. I NEVER in my life, have given up on something that I’ve worked hard on. IB, Color Guard, etc. Dance was that one thing – it was bittersweet. I felt like a different person when I was performing, but classes made me feel like the largest, ugliest, clumsiest person alive.
When no one’s watching, I still dance a bit. Mostly to remind myself of everything I learned. The expressions, the hand gestures, the poses, etc.
Yup, that’s my story.